February 25, 2008

W. basketball’s sweep gives Red one-game edge with four left

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In a season that started with the women’s basketball team having its highest pre-season ranking in program history, the Red continued to establish its place in the school’s record books this weekend. With wins over Yale (7-16, 5-5 Ivy) and Brown (2-22, 1-9), the Red (17-6, 9-1) set school records for most overall wins and conference wins in a season.
“I think [the records for most wins] mean a lot to us, because we worked so hard this season and we wanted to prove that we can compete with the best teams in the Ivy League and compete for a chance for the Ivy League title,” said sophomore Allie Fedorowicz. “We wanted to ensure that all our hard work has taken the program to the next level.”[img_assist|nid=28155|title=Rising above|desc=The women’s basketball team still sits alone in first place in the Ivy League after bringing it’s win streak to eight this weekend.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“It’s something that the girls were proud of,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “Going into the season we wanted to win the championship. We knew to do that it would that take breaking records and getting more wins than in the past to accomplish that goal.”
With four games still remaining in the season and the Red in control of its own destiny in the battle for the Ivy League title, this year’s squad has already become the most successful women’s basketball team in school history. That said, Harvard remains just one game back of the Red and has a chance to regain a tie for first when they welcome Cornell to Cambridge, Mass. next weekend.
“[The records for wins] is a great accomplishment for the team and a great step for the program,” said senior co-captain Gretchen Gregg. “But we still have bigger goals, and more goals in sight for the rest of the season.”
The Red accomplished two of those goals this past weekend by earning season sweeps over Yale and Brown. Cornell had previously faced both teams three weeks ago, beating Brown, 70-37, and Yale, 62-54.
“You can’t really go into the game thinking you will beat the team because you beat them before,” Gregg said. “Yale and Brown adjust to us. You just have to go in and play like it’s a new game because anything can happen on any night.
Yale’s adjustments didn’t stymie the first-place Red, though, who earned a 74-64 victory.
Junior Jeomi Maduka led a balanced Red attack with 22 points in 24 minutes. Sophomore Lauren Benson scored 15 points, classmate Allie Fedorowicz had 12 and junior co-captain Moina Snyder matched her with 12.
Cornell controlled the pace for the majority of the game, jumping out to a 34-18 lead with four minutes left in the first half. Yale mounted a short run before the end of the half, however, heading into the break trailing 38-27.
Cornell came out in the second half and took over the game, bringing its lead to 20 points at 51-31.
Yale came alive, however, and put together 10 unanswered points, followed by a 10-2 run to bring the Bulldogs within one possession, trailing 60-58.
“We went on a little scoring drought and couldn’t put the ball in the basket,” Fedorowicz said, “They were doing a good job of scoring, but something we’ve done as a team is grown in our confidence and composure and we kept taking care of the ball and kept being confident with our play. We knew that once we got through the little drought we could start scoring again and turn it around.”
After briefly letting Yale back into the game, the Red gave up only six more points over the final five minutes of the game to win, 74-64.
After taking care of the Bulldogs, Cornell traveled to Rhode Island to face the Bears for the first time since nearly doubling their score in a 70-37 victory.
“It’s hard to judge what they’re going to do, cause they have to change their game plan since we beat them the first time,” Fedorowicz said. “But we knew that if we did what we needed to do, we could win.”
The Red put together a solid performance, good enough for a 65-41 win.
Cornell shot an even 50 percent from the field while holding Brown to 31 percent shooting.
The Bears missed opportunities to score all night, going only 4-of-12 from the charity stripe compared to the Red’s 14-of-26 performance.
In a game that saw the Ivy League’s top team face off against the league’s worst, Cornell won comfortably and was able to focus on getting a lot of players involved and up to game speed. 10 of the 12 women on the roster scored in the contest, including junior guard Kayleen Fitzsimmons.
After sitting out seven games with an injury, Fitzsimmons has played an average of nearly four minutes a game while averaging four points over the last four games. In the game against Brown on Saturday, Fitzsimmons went a perfect 3-for-3 from the field to score nine points.
“It’s nice to see her come back and shoot the ball well,” Gregg said. “She looked comfortable and that’s a big step for her and our team.”