February 9, 2009

Home Losses Hurt W. B-Ball’s Playoff Chances

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After starting conference play strong, Cornell lost back to back games at Newman Arena to Princeton and Penn this past weekend, falling to fifth in the Ivy League standings.
“We messed up big. You don’t lose on your home court like this,” said senior forward Shannan Scarselletta, also a Sun columnist.
“This weekend was a tough two games,” added junior guard Virginia McMunigal. “We’re just hoping to go in this week and have a strong week of practice.”
Following the doubleheader, the Red’s record on the season dropped to 7-11 overall, and 3-3 in conference play.
On Friday, Cornell saw its three-game win streak snapped in a 75-56 loss against a fierce Princeton defense. The Tigers (7-11, 2-2) meanwhile drained nearly 50 percent of its shots, scoring 38 in the second period.
Junior guard Lauren Benson scored nine points and dished out four assists. Princeton was led by senior guard Whitney Downs, who scored 19.
The one bright spot on the game was the play of freshman forward Allie Munson, who put up another strong game to back-up her Ivy League Rookie of the Week performance. She finished the contest with eight points and a team-high six boards.
“She’s working hard in practice, and it’s paying off for her,” said Scarselletta. “She has a very special role on our team. When she plays well, everyone gets excited.”
The Red had a more competitive contest against Penn on Saturday, but was still unable to pull out the win, losing 79-70 after a Quaker (4-15, 1-4) second-half rally.
Although Cornell had an 11-point lead going into the break, they couldn’t contain the barrage of Penn field goals, which amounted to 55 points in the final period.
The Quakers would go on to finish the day with 59 percent field goal percentage, while the Red in comparison managed only 45 percent of their shots.
Freshman swingman Allison Abt had a breakout performance, scoring 17 points of the bench. Scarselletta added 16 points and five boards, while Benson notched eight assists.
Much like the Princeton game however, poor defense and insufficient rebounding would prove to be the Red’s undoing, as the team allowed a 27-point performance to senior forward Carrie Biemer and were outmatched on the glass, 34-23.
“I think we need to pick-up our defense again,” said Scarselletta. “Also, our rebounding… it’s something we take a lot of pride in.”
“We’re going to work on our defense and improve that part of our game,” echoed McMunigal. “We have to have a really solid week of practice.”
Considering how both losses came at Newman Arena, the Red now knows it must work to recapture its dominant home court advantage.
“Now we really have to protect our house, and we really need to regain our place as protectors of our home court,” said Scarselletta.