February 4, 2008

W. Hoops’ Bench Comes Up Big

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Behind solid defense and intelligent, patient offense, the women’s basketball team swept its two-game homestand over the weekend and moved into a four-way tie atop the Ivy League standings. Cornell routed Brown by a score of 70-37 on Friday night, then followed that up with a victory over Yale on Saturday night, 62-54.
Friday night against Brown, the Red shooters were on fire in the first half, sinking 57.1 percent of their shots before the intermission — although that number sank to 46.4 percent for the entire game. Junior forward Jeomi Maduka led the offense with fifteen points. Senior guard Gretchen Gregg and junior forward Shannan Scarselletta, also a Sun columnist, tallied 10 points apiece.
Cornell (11-6, 3-1 Ivy) used a solid team effort on defense to hold the Bears (1-17, 0-4) to such a low score.[img_assist|nid=27241|title=Heads up|desc=Sophomore Virginia McMunigal (4) came off the bench against Yale on Saturday and led the team in scoring with 16 points.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“It was all our man-to-man. We did a great job with our penetration,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “We forced them to take some shots that they weren’t comfortable taking out on the perimeter and off the dribble. It was a great team defensive effort with penetration ‘D’ helping from the weak side and our forwards taking care of the block.”
Even though the Bears didn’t seriously threaten to take the lead at any point during the game, Smith said that the game was a productive one for the Red.
“We were just focusing on what we wanted to do,” she said. “We had an opportunity to play a lot of players and get some people some good experience and take some minutes off the starters’ plate. We had a good grip on the game and when Brown made a little comeback or a little surge and we shut them down pretty quickly.”
The Red did an equally effective job shutting down Yale’s mini-comeback the next night. After Cornell built an 11-point lead during the second half, Yale (5-12, 3-1 Ivy) went on a 9-1 scoring run, but Maduka took matters into her own hands and sank back-to-back layups to give the Red a comfortable 10-point margin, 53-43.
Sophomore Virginia McMunigal came off the bench to lead the team in points with 16. Yale was forced to foul at the end of the game, and McMunigal responded with a six-for-six performance from the charity stripe.
“Coming off the bench, you always expect to bring something new and a burst of energy because you’re so fresh,” McMunigal said. “I’d say that’s the kind of mentality I try to come [into the game] with, just bring energy and try to make something happen out there.”
McMunigal has been the hot hand off the bench of late, with eye-opening performances Saturday against Yale and last weekend in the Red’s loss to Columbia (14 points and seven rebounds).
“She’s positioning her body in better places,” Smith said. “She’s doing a good job of doing the right things. She’s not trying to do anything spectacular.
“She’s just doing what she needs to do and doing it the right way.”
Two weekends into the Ivy League season, the same thing could be said of the Red’s play.