November 28, 2011

W. BASKETBALL | Cornell Ends Break on Winning Note

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There are few feats in sports that are as difficult as coming back, both mentally and physically, from a devastating loss. Any athlete who has been through a close game knows the physical toll that a tough defeat takes on both the players and the coaches, and the empty feeling that results from coming out on the losing end. The Cornell women’s basketball team experienced that feeling not once, but two twice over the Thanksgiving break.

On Tuesday, Nov. 22, New Hampshire (2-1) defeated the Red (2-4) on a last second buzzer beater to finish with a one-point victory, 63-62. Three days later, the squad lost in the same fashion to a scrappy Eastern Michigan team that came out on top by a mere two points in a low-scoring affair, 54-52. After seeing its last three contests come down to the final possession of the game, Cornell emerged firing on all cylinders on Sunday against Cleveland State and never looked back, winning by a comfortable 20 points, 79-59.

Junior guard Spencer Lane called the week a “roller coaster,” saying the losses against New Hampshire and Eastern Michigan were “really tough.”

“We played really well against both teams, but we just ended up on the losing end,” she added. “We took our frustration out in the Cleveland State game, and ended up with a huge victory against a very good team.”

Junior forward Claire Fitzpatrick was a catalyst for the Red throughout the week, leading the team in both scoring and rebounds. Reaching double figures in all three games, Fitzpatrick executed key shots down the stretch to keep Cornell in the game against Eastern Michigan. With 25 seconds to play, Fitzpatrick managed to knot the game at 50 with a jumper in the paint; however, Eastern Michigan pushed the ball down the court to score what would ultimately be the winning basket.

With close losses to both Eastern Michigan and New Hampshire burning in the players’ minds, the Red boarded the team bus to face a Cleveland State team that had blown them out in Ithaca a year earlier.

“The team was really excited to get another shot at Cleveland State, and we felt like it was a good chance to prove ourselves against a high-quality team,” said junior guard Taylor Flynn.

The Red did just that, shooting a blistering 53.7 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from 3-point range to go up nine at the half. Then, in the first four minutes of the second period, Cornell held its opponent scoreless to build a substantial lead, 44-27. The Red never looked back after that run, finishing strong to win the game on the road, 79-59.

According to Flynn, the Cleveland State game was a “turning point” for the team.

“We really have something special here,” she said. “Cleveland State is a very good team and the fact that we beat them by 20 points speaks volumes to the amount of talent present on the team. If we continue to play at the same intensity as we practice, we can do really big things this year.”

The Red returns to Newman Arena on Wednesday to play Binghamton (4-2) at 7 p.m.

Original Author: Nicholas Rielly