February 8, 2008

Red Seeks First Ivy Road Win

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This weekend the women’s basketball team will take on two squads, Princeton and Penn, whose combined win total of seven is still four games short of the Red’s victory count this season. However, records are not always an accurate indication of the outcome of the game, as the Red found out two weeks ago after a 76-59 loss to Columbia — a 3-12 team at the time.
The Red (11-6, 3-1 Ivy) is in an early four-way tie for first place in the Ivy League, but is still searching for its first Ivy road win of the season. Cornell should enter the weekend with some confidence, however, after coming off a two-game home sweep of Brown and Yale last weekend.
Princeton — originally projected to tie with Cornell for second in the Ivy League — suffered losses to Harvard and Dartmouth last weekend to fall to 4-15, 1-2 Ivy — good for sixth place in the league. The Tigers have had trouble scoring all season, averaging just 58.4 points per game compared to 65.2 by the Red.
Princeton is led by 6-1 senior forward Meagan Cowher. Cowher is averaging 17.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. The task of guarding Cowher will likely be delegated to 6-2 junior forward Jeomi Maduka. Other options for the Red exist with a tandem of 6-1 junior forwards, co-captain Moina Snyder and Shannan Scarseletta, also a Sun columnist.
“I don’t know if we can really neutralize [Cowher],” said head coach Dayna Smith. “She’s probably one of the more talented players in the league. We have to try to minimize her impact, push her out of the lane, and hopefully put some pressure on some of their other players.”
Besides Cowher, the Tigers are largely without an offensive threat. Their next highest-scoring player is freshman guard Addie Micir, who contributes 7.1 points per game.
Tomorrow night, Smith will head back to her old gym as she coached as an assistant at Penn (3-15, 0-3) from 1999-2002. Since coming to Cornell, Smith has compiled a 3-7 record against her former team. She’ll be looking to avenge the Red’s defeat to Penn in the teams’ last matchup. The Quakers came out on top, 49-48, on Feb. 17, 2007. The Red was ahead at halftime but shot just 34 percent from the field and was ultimately edged out by Penn in the last seconds of the game.
Maduka put up the Red’s best performance against the Quakers last time. She finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. On a related note, if Maduka grabs 12 more rebounds this weekend, she will have accumulated 500 for her collegiate career.
This year’s matchup should improve the stats of the Red’s already-tight defense. The Quakers are shooting 39.2 percent from the field as a team, but are hitting 3-pointers at a respectable rate of 31.6 percent. Due partially to their low shooting percentage, the Quakers are second to last in the league in points per game.
“It’ll be a little bit of a role reversal,” Smith said. “We’ll have to try to extend their 3-point shots and force them to take some shots that they’re not comfortable with.”