January 25, 2008

Cornell Travels to NYC to Take On Columbia

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Just like Roman criminals two millennia ago, the Red will travel into the arena to take on the Lions for the second time in a week. Cornell (9-5, 1-0 Ivy) will make the trip to New York City and take on Columbia (3-12, 0-1 Ivy) at 4 p.m. tomorrow in Levien Gymnasium.
Cornell has swept the last two season series from the Lions, and it continued that trend in the first face-off between the two teams this season. The Red prevailed last Saturday at Newman Arena, 73-57, behind strong performances from junior Moina Snyder (13 points, six rebounds) and junior Jeomi Maduka (19 points, 10 rebounds), who was named Ivy League Player of the Week. The Lions were led by senior guard Michele Gage (13 points) and sophomore guard Danielle Brown (10 points, 5 rebounds).
Columbia’s guard trio of Gage, Brown and sophomore Sara Yee, combined for 31 of Columbia’s 57 points. The success of the guards was due in part to the Red’s pre-game emphasis on stopping the Lions’ forwards.
“Their guards did a great job scoring on us,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “We focused on trying to shut down their two leading scorers, which happened to be the forwards and we really allowed their guards some open shots so those three guards had very good games against us.”
Columbia is led by its defense, which caused 27 turnovers in their last game on Monday against Longwood. However, the offense couldn’t capitalize on the turnovers, shooting only 28.6 percent from the field. Part of Columbia’s success on defense is due to its unusual plays and defensive schemes.
“They mixed it up defensively on us, they showed us a new scheme, the 1-3-1 zone, that we didn’t really prepare for,” Smith said. “But our kids made nice adjustments within the game and were able to kind of take care of it and make some shots.”
The Red attributed last week’s victory over the Lions largely to a team-first mentality and the willingness to be patient before taking shots.
“The biggest thing that we did really well is we really moved the ball around,” said sophomore guard Virginia McMunigal. “We made the extra pass, we found open shooters on the perimeter and open people on the post. I think we just need to share the ball like that and find the open players.”
The Red has registered assists on 68.2 percent of its shots, a remarkable figure when compared to the Red’s opponents who assist on only 51.9 percent of theirs. Leading the Red in that category is sophomore guard Lauren Benson, leading the team with 5.64 assists per game. Benson’s assist numbers rank her first in that category in the Ivy Leagues and 17th nationally.
When the Red plays a home-and-home series like the one against Columbia, Smith expects her opponents to come out with increased intensity and a new set of plays.
“Going into the second game, both coaches are going to adjust their game plan and throw something different at each other so we just have to be ready for any kind of change in the way they play,” Smith said. “It’s nice that we know their players now, we’re familiar with them, but they’re familiar with us too, so we just have to be prepared that they might be a little more focused.”