February 8, 2012

W. BASKETBALL | Ivy Title Still in Reach for Red

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The women’s basketball team will travel to New Haven, Conn. to face Yale on Friday, before heading to Providence, R.I., to play Brown on Saturday, in two games that will play a major role in determining the Ivy League standings. Both Yale and Brown have similar conference records, and, after Cornell’s (9-10, 3-2 Ivy League) win against Dartmouth on Saturday, the Ivy League title is still a reachable goal for many teams.

Freshman forward Sarah Poland, who has been a major contributor for the Red, said that this week the team has been calling this weekend a “separation weekend.”

“We realize that Yale and Brown have similar records, and that, depending on what Harvard and Princeton do on Saturday, a strong weekend can propel us into at least second place,” she said.

However, despite the team’s enthusiasm, Cornell does not have an easy road ahead of it. On Friday, the Red will face a Yale (12-8, 4-2) team that is brimming with depth and senior leadership. Coming off a strong 2011 campaign in which the Bulldogs received a bid to play in the Womens National Invitation Tournament — the program’s first ever postseason bid — Yale is returning four starters, including Megan Vasquez, Janna Graf and Sarah Halejian. Currently third in Ivy League standings, the team is poised to make a run for the conference championship and an NCAA berth.

“Straight up, Yale is a really good team,” said junior forward Claire Fitzpatrick. “Last year, we went down to the wire against them, and we fully expect them to bring the same energy. However, as long as we do the little things right, I feel as though we can play our best game.”

In addition to Yale, Brown (12-8, 3-3) will also pose a formidable challenge for Cornell. On Saturday, the Red will face a team that has won six straight contests mid-season, including a home and away sweep of Rhode Island and Providence.  In those contests, Brown rarely got quality playing time from its bench, and featured its top five for the majority of the games. The same five athletes have started every single game this season, and the bench averages 6.7 points a game, which accounts for only 10 percent of the team’s points.  However, the Bears are led by veteran head coach Jean Marie Burr, who has coached for 24 years, and just won her 300th game earlier this season.

The Red hopes to bring the same energy that it showed in the contest against Dartmouth, and hopes to see similar performances from players like sophomore guard Allyson Dimango, who put up 16 points and 13 rebounds to keep Cornell away from the surging Green on Saturday. The team is also expecting another strong performance from Fitzpatrick, a player who has been the squad’s go-to scorer all season.

“I am excited about this weekend, and I feel as though we can make a legitimate difference in the standings,” Poland said. “We realize that Harvard and Princeton are at the top of the pack right now but, in this League, anything can happen.”

Original Author: Nicholas Rielly