March 2, 2009

W. B-Ball Blows Green’s Undefeated Ivy Record

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The Red was led by a balanced offense one night, and a big scorer the next, to split a weekend series at Newman Arena against Dartmouth and Harvard –– picking up a key conference win in the process.
On Friday against the Green (14-10, 9-1 Ivy), the Red took down the Ivy League’s best defense with four players scoring in double-digits, winning an exciting matchup, 66-61, in overtime.
“We focused more on scoring in transition; we wanted to get quick shots,” said head coach Dayna Smith.
The team also emphasized making the right adjustments mid-game once it was brought face-to-face with the fierce Dartmouth defensive front.
“We weren’t successful in our first crack at it, so we changed our mentality and took quicker shots,” said Smith.
Junior guard Virginia McMunigal led the way with 14 points and eight rebounds, while junior point guard Lauren Benson registered a 12-point, 10-assist double-double. Also in double figures were junior guard Allie Fedorowicz (13 points) and senior forward and Sun columnist Shannan Scarselletta (10 points).
Even against the much-heralded Green defense, the Red went back to its early-season ways in draining an impressive 41 percent of three-point shots, as well as shooting 36.5 percent overall, and 67 percent from the free-throw line.[img_assist|nid=35670|title=Poking holes|desc=The Red defeated the Ancient Eight’s top defense in Dartmouth, 66-61, this past weekend. The team had four players scoring in the double digits in the win.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Although Cornell led for the majority of the contest, Dartmouth snaked by into a 46-45 advantage with just over five minutes of play remaining. After trading baskets until the clock started to wind down, Dartmouth had a chance to close out the game and lock up a 10-0 Ivy record, but was unable to make a layup, and then had a put-back attempt certifiably stuffed by Scarselletta –– sending the game into overtime.
Although the Green was the one to jump out to an early lead in overtime, Benson led Cornell’s resurgence with a key steal, sparking a big Red run. Clutch free throw shooting by Benson and Fedorowicz would lock up the win.
Smith emphasized how important Benson’s consistent play for the team has been, and will continue to be, if the Red hopes to make another trip to the NCAA tournament:
“The point guard position, in my mind, is so significant in how your team comes out and handles opposing teams and opposing defenses,” said Smith. “Lauren has a lot of responsibility, especially in our system.”
Highlighting some of her point guard’s strengths, Smith added that “Lauren can play with a clear head and can play focused basketball.”
On Saturday, Fedorowicz posted a game-high 25 points, but the Red fell to the Crimson (17-8, 9-2 Ivy), 56-63.
“We played a great game against them … but they played a great game down the stretch,” said Smith, who was encouraged by her team’s performance, despite the loss.
On her Senior Night and final game at Newman Arena, Scarselletta put up 12 points, going 6-for-14 from the field. Freshman forwards Allie Munson and Christine Vlasic both came off the bench to register game-high, 10-rebound performances.
Saturday was also the final game for senior guard Lacey Workman, who played 23 minutes and notched two assists.
Although the Red led by as many as nine, and had the lead with less than six minutes to play, Harvard closed the game on a 14-2 run to cap-off the win.
“We had a couple of key possessions with a few minutes to go,” said Smith, “but we just didn’t finish them.”
“[Harvard] has a very impressive senior class and are very strong, so I was proud of our team’s effort,” she added.