March 3, 2008

Woeful Weekend for W. Cagers Results in Fall From First Place

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While the men’s basketball team was celebrating their title by cutting the net down at Newman Arena on Saturday night, the Crimson women’s team was cutting the Red’s Ivy title hopes out from underneath its feet. Despite a cold shooting weekend, the Red only scored five points less than its opponents over the weekend. However, that was all it took to lose to Dartmouth, 46-44, and Harvard, 51-48. Because of the weekend sweep, Cornell falls to 17-9 and 9-3 in Ivy play, good for second place.
The Green (12-14, 9-3 Ivy) sent its fans home happy on Friday night by winning a thriller of a defensive struggle. With 3.4 seconds remaining in the game, the Green’s freshman forward Brittney Smith made a layup to put the home team ahead for good. Smith and senior forward Sydney Scott led Dartmouth with nine points each. Even though it was a relatively low-scoring game, Dartmouth capitalized on its opportunities by shooting 47.5 percent from the field while holding the Red to 37.8 percent — well below Cornell’s season average of 42.2 percent. The Green also out-rebounded the Red 32-23 — a stark contrast from their last matchup when the Red won the battle of the boards 39-25.[img_assist|nid=28468|title=Grin and bear it|desc=Harvard’s stifling defense held the Red to just 48 points on Saturday. Junior Kayleen Fitzsimmons (12) led the team with eight points.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“Dartmouth is a defensive team,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “The second half of that game I thought they were very focused on clogging up the key. They were more aggressive on the perimeter… it really disrupted the flow of our offense and we didn’t do a good job reading it and getting the open shots.”
After losing its spot atop the conference to the Red two weeks ago in a blowout at Newman Arena, the Crimson (17-9, 10-2 Ivy) regained first place by stopping the Red offense that put up 85 points in the last matchup between the two teams. The Red’s leading scorer in that game, senior guard Gretchen Gregg, was held to just three points this time around, compared to 18 in the last matchup.
“First off we didn’t take advantage of opportunities that we did have,” Smith said. “We had a lot of open shots that we tend to make; we didn’t have as many easy layups as we normally do, we didn’t finish as much. Before we talk about the other team’s defense I think we just need to do a better job of taking care of our own business.”
Cornell’s offense was also stretched thin without its leading scorer, Maduka, who was competing at the Heps track event. None of the Red players managed to get into double digits; junior forward Shannan Scarselletta and junior guard Kayleen Fitzsimmons led the team with eight points apiece.
Cornell suffered an even worse shooting night on Saturday — just 32.7 percent — but held Harvard to a 32.2 percent. Unfortunately for the Red, the Crimson made shots at the right times. With two seconds left in the game, a lay-up by junior forward Moina Snyder cut Harvard’s lead 49-48, and the Red fouled to send Jessica Knox to the charity stripe. Knox proceeded to sink both of her shots and the Red couldn’t get a shot off in the remaining seconds.
Because of the two-loss weekend, the Red is no longer in control of the Ivy League race. Cornell would need at least one Harvard loss next weekend to reclaim first place in the Ancient Eight.