January 23, 2009

W. Basketball Looks to Even Score vs. Lions

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For the women’s basketball team, last weekend’s loss to Columbia marked its third straight loss to a team that the Red beat last season. While Cornell will have to wait at least a year to avenge its losses to Binghampton and Bucknell, the Red will get another chance to take down the Lions tomorrow at Newman Arena.
During Cornell’s Ivy League championship run last season, Columbia (8-7, 1-0 Ivy) was one of only three teams to beat the Red (4-9, 0-1 Ivy). After beating Columbia 73-57 to open its conference schedule last year, the Red traveled to Columbia the next weekend and lost 76-59 at Levien Gym.
This year, Cornell will have the chance to repeat the home-and-home split by beating Columbia tomorrow afternoon. A win would put the Red at 1-1 in the Ancient Eight, the same record the Red started with last season en route to the NCAA tournament.
Both the Red and the Lions feature very different women from last year. Cornell lost its top three scorers from last season, who combined for more than half of Cornell’s points during last year’s victory over Columbia. Columbia, on the other hand, has improved its roster, adding two sophomore standouts who did not play for the Lions against Cornell last year.
The sophomore tandem of forward Judie Lomax and guard Kathleen Barry proved to be the difference against the Red in last weekend’s home opener. Barry shot 5-10 from the field and did not miss a free throw attempt en route to a team-high 14 points. Lomax, a transfer from Oregon State University who was selected to the Pac 10 All-Freshman Team in 2007, controlled the boards with a game-high 15 rebounds.
Lomax currently ranks third in scoring with 13.9 points per game and leads the Ivy League with 13.8 rebounds a game. Even if her 88 offensive boards were ignored, Lomax’s 119 defensive rebounds would be enough to rank her number one in total rebounding.
Thanks to Lomax’s consistent domination in the paint, Columbia has far-and-away the highest rebounding margin in the Ivy League at +8.5 a game. Harvard is second with +2.5, and Cornell ranks fourth at +0.4. Columbia also ranks first in steals, while Cornell’s most noticeable statistic is ranking worst in turnover margin at -6.7 a game.
To stop Lomax, Cornell will likely be looking to senior captain Shannon Scarselletta. Last weekend, Scarselletta got the better of Lomax on the offensive end, scoring a game-high 17 points for the Red. Scarselletta held Lomax to just nine points on 4-12 shooting, but managed to snag less than half as many rebounds as her front-court foe.
Scarselletta also had a game-high six turnovers, matching junior captain Lauren Benson. Last weekend, Cornell turned the ball over 24 times and shot just 22 percent from the charity stripe, connecting on only 2-of-9 free throw attempts. The Red’s free-throw percentage on the season is currently 63 percent. The turnover issue is not new, however, as the team’s turnover margin is -87 through the first 13 games. In last season’s win against the Lions, the Red turned the ball over just nine times.