February 27, 2009

Charged W. Basketball Takes On Dartmouth

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A week after its best offensive weekend of the season, the Red will be back in action tonight against Dartmouth — the Ivy League’s best defensive team. Cornell (9-13, 5-5 Ivy) will then have the pleasure of playing Harvard — the league’s best offensive team — tomorrow, both games being played at Newman Arena.
The game against Dartmouth (14-9, 9-0) will be the 61st meeting between the two teams, with the Green having won 50 of them, including 13 of the last 15 games. The Green won the last contest earlier this season, 55-36. In addition to dominating its series with Cornell, Dartmouth is also currently dominating the Ivy League.
Dartmouth sits atop the league with a perfect 9-0 record. They have done it all on the defensive end of the court, having gone undefeated thus far with only one game of more than 58 points on offense — a 71-67 overtime win against Princeton. While holding opponents to only 43 points and 31 percent shooting, Dartmouth has compiled the league’s highest average margin of victory by outscoring opponents by 12.9 points per game.
Harvard’s (15-8, 7-2) season thus far is almost as impressive as its traveling partner’s run. Harvard has only lost twice — a four-point defeat to Dartmouth and a three-point loss to Columbia — and currently has a firm grip on second place in the league. One of its wins came against the Red two weeks ago, a 75-57 victory.
While Dartmouth dominates on the defensive end of the court, Harvard wins by outscoring opponents with the league’s most productive offense — 68.8 points per game. Harvard is second to Dartmouth in margin of victory, but leads the Ancient Eight in shooting and 3-point percentage. Harvard also leads the league in rebounding margin. The second place team in that category: Dartmouth.
So what does this mean for the Red? Currently in fourth place behind this weekend’s two opponents and Columbia (6-4), the Red would have the chance to jump over the Lions and move into third place — moving the Red closer to where they finished last season, in a three-way tie with the Crimson and the Green.
Cornell has gotten increased output from freshman guard/forward Allison Abt. After scoring a career-high 20 points in the win over Yale last weekend, Abt grabbed a team-high eight rebounds against Brown. The reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Week was also the Red’s leading scorer the last time they played Dartmouth, scoring 11 points against the league’s best defense.
The Red will also be looking to junior point guard Lauren Benson, who has quietly directed a team that leads the league with 14.2 assists per game. Benson currently leads the Ivy league with 5.3 points a game while logging a league-high 36.1 minutes a game and scoring just under 10 points a game.
Harvard’s counter to Benson will be senior point guard Emily Tay. She is currently second in the league with 5.1 assists a game, fourth in steals (1.8 per game), and is one of three Crimson players in the league’s top-7 in scoring.
But the home team will also have its hands full with some young guns this weekend. Harvard freshman Brogan Berry averages 14.9 points a game, second in the league. Dartmouth sophomore Brittney Smith is fifth in the Ivy League in scoring and tied for second in the league in rebounding with Harvard sophomore Emma Markley.