February 20, 2009

Slumping W. Cagers Take On Yale, Brown

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With the weight of a four-game losing streak on its shoulders, the women’s basketball team welcomes Yale and Brown to Newman Arena this weekend for a chance to pick up two crucial Ivy League wins.
In preparation for the big doubleheader weekend, freshman swingman Allison Abt said the Red has been focusing on “defense and team concepts” in practice.
The first game, against the Bulldogs (10-12, 3-5 Ivy), will tip off tonight at 7 p.m.
At the two teams’ Jan. 31 matchup in New Haven, Conn., Cornell (7-13, 3-5) played tenacious defense throughout the contest, securing a 57-42 win. Junior guard Allie Fedorowicz had a solid all-around night, notching 17 points (a team-high), six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal. Sophomore forward Susie Doyle also snagged a career-high 12 boards. On that night, the Red shot an impressive 43 percent from the field, and won the rebounding battle, 46-30.
However, that performance seems like ages ago, as the Red has run into both shooting and rebounding trouble in its current losing losing streak. Both deficiencies were crucial in a 55-36 loss to Dartmouth last Saturday.
“The first half is really going to be crucial,” said Abt. “We need to come out and make a statement in the first few minutes.”
Yale is led by junior 6-0 swingman Melissa Colborne, who is averaging 15.6 points per game. The team, however, has had a balanced offensive attack throughout the season, and will surely look to rely on that against a Cornell defensive set that has seemed to fix many of its holes when it held the Green to under 60 points.
The second game of the weekend, against the Bears (3-19, 1-7), will start at 7 p.m. tomorrow.
Brown has struggled throughout the year, managing only one Ivy win and 47 points per contest. The Bears have been outscored by an average of almost 21 points per game.
Coincidentally, their one conference victory came against Yale in a 64-62 victory in New Haven on Jan. 16.
The Red defeated Brown, 74-62, on Jan. 30, thanks in large part to junior Lauren Benson’s team-high 20 points. The point guard was 10-of-14 on free throws, while dishing out five assists. Senior forward Shannan Scarselletta added 18 points and pulled down eight boards. The victory was the Cornell’s statistically-best offensive performance of the season — an accomplishment the team would certainly like to channel, having scored fewer than 60 points in four games out of five since that night.
Sophomore guard Sadie Williams is leading Brown with seven points per game, while junior Courtney Hill has been playing a solid all-around point guard, registering 3.1 assists and 2.6 steals per game.
Despite Brown’s struggles, the Red knows the Bears are not a team to be taken lightly.
“Brown is just really athletic, so you never know when they’re going to go off,” said Abt. “If they’re aggressive and you let them get into your head, they can be dangerous.”
Although Cornell has been focused, preparing and working hard all week, it can’t help but think about what picking up two conference wins this weekend could do, not only for the squad’s record, but for its morale.