March 7, 2008

Red Needs Sweep, Harvard Loss for Title

Print More

Just like the preseason polls predicted, the Cornell women’s basketball team is indeed tied for second place in the Ivy League with one weekend left to play. Currently tied with Dartmouth — not Princeton, the other preseason pick for second place — the Red is one game behind Harvard in the race for the Ivy title. The team will need excellent play from its key players — including seniors Gretchen Gregg and Moina Snyder, both playing in their last home weekend — and at least one Harvard loss if it wants any chance of making the NCAA tournament.
“We go into every single weekend and approach each game one at a time,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “The only thing we can control is how we play Friday night against Penn and Saturday night against [Princeton]. If we get a little help from Yale or Brown, we’ll appreciate that, but we can’t really worry about that. We’ll just take care of our business. [The losses last weekend] were our fault and we’re going to try to make up for it this weekend by getting back to the way we know how to play.”
[img_assist|nid=28627|title=Fierce by Gretchen Gregg|desc=Senior co-captain Gretchen Gregg, sixth nationally in 3-point shooting, will look to lead the Red to wins against Penn and Princeton this weekend.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
In the last faceoff with the Quakers, Cornell prevailed by a score of 80-56 at Palestra. Junior forward Moina Snyder led the Red with 20 points and nine boards. Snyder was aided by junior forward Jeomi Maduka, who collected 14 points and four boards. Senior guard Gretchen Gregg, in the middle of her torrid 3-point shooting streak at the time, chipped in with 13 points, including 3-of-4 from beyond the 3-point line.
“In the Penn game I thought we played very good defense,” Smith said. “I did think that in both games, Penn and Princeton, they penetrated well on us, so we’re going to have to focus on that part of our defense. I thought we executed very well in our first Penn game but we anticipate them making some adjustments and I think defensively we allowed a couple players that came off the bench had very good games. They have enough players that are really starting to step up so we need to do a better job with respecting them and focusing on personnel.”
Penn is led by junior Carrie Biemer, who leads the Quakers with 13 points per game. Last time the two teams met, the Red defense held Biemer to 11 points.
The Tigers’ best player, Megan Cowher, scored 12 points and grabbed eight boards against the Red on Feb. 8. Cowher averages 16.7 points per game along with 7.1 rebounds. With these gaudy stats, the Red’s defense will have to give most of its attention to Cowher, but it cannot focus solely on the Tiger standout.
“In the Princeton game it was a battle,” Smith said. “I thought we did give up penetration. We really wanted to stop Megan Cowher, one of the leading scorers in the league, and we did a nice job of containing her, we didn’t really stop her. But in the process we didn’t do as good of a job with everyone else, so we’ve got to be able to play better team defense in both games.”
Last weekend the Red was held to just 44 and 48 points — two of its lowest offensive outputs of the season. Part of this anomaly was due to Dartmouth’s exceptional defense, but the players focused in practice on getting their offense clicking again.
“We just got back to working on our half-court sets and reading a defense,” Smith said. “Especially the looks that we’ve seen from Penn and Princeton and other teams the past couple of weeks. We didn’t score much against Harvard or Dartmouth and we have to get back to that; that’s been our strong point this year. [We excel at] running the ball and really executing well so we did get back to working hard on that.”