The Cornell women’s basketball team was on the road again this weekend, when it traveled to rivals Dartmouth and Harvard in search of its first Ivy League wins of the season. The Red fell in both contests, despite breakout performances by freshmen Taylor Flynn and Clare Fitzpatrick.
The losses pushed the Red (5-12, 0-4 Ivy) to the bottom of the Ivy League standings, while Dartmouth (7-10, 2-1 Ivy) and Harvard (11-6, 2-1 Ivy) inched closer to league leader Princeton.
Cornell came up just short in its showdown with Dartmouth on Friday night, relinquishing a one-point lead in the final minute to fall to the Big Green, 55-53. Flynn and Fitzpatrick led the way for the Red, scoring 19 points and 10 points, respectively. Fitzpatrick added 13 rebounds en route to her first career double-double. It wasn’t just the newcomers that contributed to the effort, however. Senior Allie Fedorowicz added 13 points and senior Lauren Benson moved ever-closer to Cornell’s all-time assists record by tossing nine helpers in the game.
On the other side of the ball, Brittney Smith recorded her own double-double, scoring 22 points and grabbing 12 rebounds for the Big Green.
The Red appeared on its way to its first Ivy win of the season when it took a 33-25 lead into the break, but an 11-0 run by the Big Green at the start of the second half appeared to shift all the momentum into Dartmouth’s hands. Cornell refused to go away, however, as the Red erased a seven point Green advantage and took a 53-52 lead with just over a minute left.
“We’re the type of team that is going to work hard every second of the game. Even if we get down we’re not going to give up,” Fitzpatrick said. “That’s the mentality our coaches have instilled in this team.”
Turnovers plagued the Red in the final minute, however, and Cornell failed to score again.
“We had the ball several times in the last minute and a half, and we turned the ball over three times,” said Cornell head coach Dayna Smith. “We made some poor decisions down the stretch.”
Cornell turned the ball over 21 times during the game, as opposed to just 12 turnovers committed by the Big Green.
Saturday night felt eerily similar to Friday for the Red, as Cornell had an early lead before faltering in the final minutes of a 69-53 defeat at the hands of the Harvard Crimson. Once again, the duo of Flynn and Fitzpatrick led the way for the Red. Flynn scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds while Fitzpatrick fell just short of her second double-double in as many days with 15 points and nine rebounds. Lauren Benson filled the box score, as well, scoring 14 points with six rebounds and four assists.
Harvard had four players score in double-figures, with Christine Matera leading the way with 16 points followed by Brogan Berry with 14.
Cornell took an early 16-9 advantage over the Crimson before going into the half down by two. The game stayed tight for most of the second half, with the Red trailing by just one with a little over 12 minutes to play. Harvard then scored nine points while holding Cornell scoreless over the next couple of minutes, at which point the lead was too large to overcome.
“Basketball is a game of runs and we’ve had our fair share of bad runs,” Smith said, referring to the Crimson’s decisive 9-0 scoring run. “We need to limit those runs and I think if we do that we’ll get a couple wins.”
The game marked the second time in as many days that the Red had held the lead early, only to lose it at a later point.
“We were happy with getting out to those leads, but now we need to learn to sustain them,” Smith said. “We’re not satisfied just competing in games; we need to get some wins. That was a step in the right direction from where we’ve been playing, but we expect a lot more from ourselves.”
Despite the disappointing results of this weekend’s games, Smith was encouraged by the breakout performances of her two freshmen starters. Fitzpatrick has been a staple in the Red’s starting lineup for months, but Flynn wasn’t a regular until Virginia McMunigal left the lineup due to an injury over a week ago.
“I thought Clare [Fitzpatrick] and Taylor [Flynn] both had just a terrific weekend. They really responded to the challenge,” Smith said. “For being freshman and going out to the toughest places to play in the league, with the types of games they had, I’m pleased with both of them.”
Both Flynn and Fitzpatrick credited much of their success to the work the team had been putting in during practice over the past two weeks.
“We’re having great weeks of practice,” Flynn said. “Transferring those practices over to the games has been our weakest link so far but we seemed to take a big step towards overcoming that this weekend.”
The team incorporated new offensive looks in practice over the past couple of days and Flynn said she noticed the difference during the weekend’s games.
“We actually started to click in practice and we were able to transfer that over into the game.”
Fitzpatrick has taken note of the team’s progression as well, and feels that the Red can be successful by expanding upon what it has learned.
“We worked very hard this weekend and we’re obviously all very disappointed with the outcome,” Fitzpatrick said. “But if we keep playing the way we’re playing and keep working upon the base that we’ve already established we’re definitely going to get some Ivy League wins this season.”
Original Author: Reena Gilani