February 22, 2008

Tables Have Turned for Red Against Yale, Brown

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Historically, the women’s basketball team might seem like the underdog this weekend. Yale (6-15, 4-4), leads Cornell (15-6, 7-1 Ivy) in the all-time series, 39-19, and the Red hasn’t won in New Haven since an 80-70 victory in the 2002-03 season. Brown (1-7, 2-20) has also usually gotten the best of the Red; the Bears lead the all-time series 41-16. But no matter the past precedent, the Red — No. 1 in the Ivy League and on a six-game winning streak — are the clear favorites heading into the final six games of their Ivy season.
Cornell defeated Yale, 62-54, on Feb. 2 helped by an 11-point showing from junior forward Moina Snyder and a stellar 16-point, off-the-bench performance by sophomore guard Virginia McMunigal. McMunigal put the game away with six-for-six sharp shooting from the free-throw line when the Bulldogs started to foul at the end of the game.
[img_assist|nid=28077|title=Seeing-eye Snyder|desc=Senior Moina Snyder (11), who was a big part of the Red’s 62-54 defeat of Yale on Feb. 2, will hope to repeat her performance against Yale tonight.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The Red would do well to start the game off hot, seeing as the Bulldogs have been outscored by a total of 734 to 595 points in the first period over the course of the season.
The Red’s last battle against Brown was a one-sided affair. By holding Brown to just 34 percent from the field and no 3-pointers, the Red easily took home the 70-37 victory. The 37 points that Cornell allowed was the second-lowest total allowed under head coach Dayna Smith. Cornell’s lowest opposing score, 36, was also against Brown.
Junior forward Jeomi Maduka contributed 15 points to the lopsided match and senior co-captain guard Gretchen Gregg and junior forward Shannan Scarselletta, also a Sun columnist, added 10 points apiece.
Despite Cornell’s previous wins over both the Bulldogs and the Bears this season, Smith knows that nothing can be taken for granted in the very competitive Ivy League season. For instance, Columbia handed the Red its sole league loss despite being ranked seventh in the Ivy League in preseason polls at the times. The Lions have since racked up a four-game winning streak and is tied with Dartmouth for third place in the league, just one game behind No. 2 Harvard and two games behind the first-place Red.
“The league has always been competitive,” Smith said. “We have all the respect in the world for both Yale and Brown no matter what the score was last time.”
The Red is in a unique position for this late into the Ivy season. Its used to looking up at the competition, not being on top, looking down. This season, opponents have Cornell in their sights. It will be tough for the Red to go on the road knowing that opponents are essentially fighting for their post-season hopes. However Smith thinks that her players will be able to maintain their focus.
“I expect the same effort as we got last week and the week before that,” Smith said. “We’re going to have the same mentality as the past few weeks.”
With solid play and intensity, the Red could finish this road weekend with the same results it got last week and the week before that — two wins.