November 20, 2008

W. Cagers Hold On for Home Win

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The women’s basketball team tightened up its defense and played aggressively last night, defeating instate rival Albany at Newman Arena, 50-46, to begin the Red’s home schedule.
Cornell (1-1) played a much more intense game than its lackluster season-opening matchup against Duquesne, when the Red forced only 17 turnovers and shot a poor 31.3%.
Against the Great Danes (0-3) however, the Red won the rebounding battle, 41-37, and grabbed five steals as the team heeded the advice of its coach to raise the intensity.
[img_assist|nid=33763|title=She got game|desc=Junior guard Allie Fedorowicz (left) drives against an Albany defender last night at Newman Arena. Fedorowicz scored a career and game-high 19 points.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“I thought we came out in the first half and had a little bit of intensity about us,” said head coach Dayna Smith.
Cornell was led by the outstanding and efficient performances of the squad’s standout guards. Junior guard Allie Fedorowicz led all scorers with 19 points, going 7-15 from the field and sinking 5-of-9 3-point attempts.
“I was very happy with how Allie played tonight,” Smith said. “We told her at the beginning of the season that she was going to have to step up and look for more scoring opportunities.”
Cornell came out strong last night, going on a 9-2 run to open up the game. Once Albany switched to a full-court press , however, the Great Danes went on a run of their own that extended to 12-0 at one point, and the visiting team managed to retake the lead by halftime, 24-23.
After the break, a Fedorowicz 3-point shot (part of a 7-0 run) propelled the Red back into the lead, 28-24, forcing a Great Danes timeout just one minute into the second half. Although the visiting team rallied back, the play of Benson — which included a perfectly executed inbounds play to junior guard Virginia McMunigal — brought the score even again at 42-42.
Several minutes later, McMunigal came up with a huge steal off of another inbounds play. The Red offense found Fedorowicz for another 3-pointer with only a minute remaining, and the home team held on for its first win of the 2008-09 season.
“I think we executed our gameplan and our plays well,” Fedorowicz said. “We did a lot better at focusing on our plays and not letting pressure get to us.”
Junior point guard Lauren Benson especially kept her composure — the Red’s court general was a main factor in the Red being able to execute on offense. She followed up her great performance against Duquesne with a nine assist, two steal night in Newman Arena — playing all 40 minutes on the Red’s home court.
“Lauren is going to be key for what we do this season,” Smith said. “She’s our hardest working player. We need her to run our team, and she did a much better job of that tonight.”
“As long as she goes out and plays basketball and doesn’t let her mind get bogged down, she’ll be fine,” Smith added.
Despite the improvement over the Duquesne loss, Smith emphasized that the team will have to continue to work to bring consistency to its aggressive play if it hopes to be successful going forward.
“I thought as a whole, our forwards were shying away from contact and not really going up strong,” Smith said. “We’ve got to continue to do a better job at being aggressive.”
The theme of needing to be aggressive was echoed by the players as well.
“We knew we had to be stronger with the ball and more aggressive,” Fedorowicz said. “Rebounds were a big concern of ours, and I think we did a better job at crashing the boards. I think you could see when we were aggressive.”