December 2, 2008

W. Cagers Pull Out Home Win, Make History

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Heading into last night’s game against Fairfield, senior captain Shannan Scarselletta was the only player on Cornell’s roster with a 20-point performance under her belt.
In the Red’s 58-54 win to extend its school-record home win streak to 11, Scarselletta became the only current Red player with a 20-point half under her belt.
[img_assist|nid=33954|title=Charging ahead|desc=Junior point guard Lauren Benson directed the Red’s 58-54 win over Fairfield last night, leading Cornell in rebounds and assists, with seven and three, respectively.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The Red (4-3) went where its 6-1 captain led it all night, struggling to generate offense in the first half while Scarselletta notched only one point in the opening stanza, before breaking out for 20 more in the second half to finish with a career-high 21.
“We went in with a game plan — trying to get the ball inside to her and establish her game early,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “In the first half, she wasn’t being aggressive going to the hoop.”
The Red didn’t score until the fourth minute of the game and found itself down midway through the first, 19-10. Cornell finally showed some signs of life, putting together a 10-2 run to bring the home team within one point of the Stags (3-3).
The team’s traded baskets over the closing minutes and went into halftime with Fairfield leading 25-24.
“We just emphasized at half-time that we need to get the ball to Shannan,” said junior Virginia McMunigal. “We wanted to get her involved early, and she got herself open and I think mostly we did a good job getting the ball to her.”
The Red certainly did. Scarselletta scored the first points after the intermission to give Cornell its first lead of the game, 26-25. After the Stags mounted another run to pull away and lead 41-36, Scarselletta scored five straight points to tie the game.
“We fed the ball in to her in the first four possessions of the second half,” Smith said. “Fairfield had to make a little bit of an adjustment, and that opened up other things for us.”
While the night belonged to Scarselletta, junior point guard Lauren Benson and junior guard Allie Fedorowicz each added 12 points, while Benson also led the team with seven rebounds and three assists.
The Stags had two players reach double-digits, led by 6-0 Baendu Lowenthal with 18 points and 6-0 Stephanie Geehan with 14 points and a game-high nine boards. Fairfield shot nearly identical 37.5 and 37 percent from the field in the first and second halves, respectively.
Cornell held the Stags to just 1-of-9 shooting from 3-point range.
Meanwhile, after shooting just 39.1 percent in the first half, Cornell shot a blistering 52.4 percent in the second while connecting on half of its 3-point attempts.
“I think the second half we kind of started clicking more offensively,” McMunigal said. “We’ve been really trying to work our inside-outside game, and establishing our post game early was giving back to us.”
With at least five players registering four rebounds, the Red won the rebounding battle by a slim 36-33 margin against a frontcourt-oriented Fairfield team.
“Winning the rebounding battle is big,” Smith said. “In every game we’re working on closing that rebounding gap. Rebounding is going to be big for us in the Ivy League [games].”
On the other hand, the Red committed 22 turnovers compared to the Stags 16.
“You’re always concerned, but I need to realize that we’re trying to give our team the benefit of the doubt, and they’re still trying to learn how to play with each other,” Smith added. “As they get to know each other … the turnovers will cut down.”
With a long break until its next game on Dec. 22 at St. Bonaventure, the Red will have plenty of time to get to know each other.