One of the strengths of the Cornell women’s basketball team has been its team chemistry and balanced scoring. This Saturday however, the spotlight is on one player — guard Maddie Campbell. The team’s lone senior, Campbell, will play her last game in Newman Arena against the Princeton Tigers.
Cornell needs a win and the extra excitement surrounding senior night should be enough to make the Red’s last home weekend a good one. Last weekend, the team traveled to Dartmouth and Harvard, losing both and sinking their record to 13-11 overall and 5-5 in the Ivy League. This weekend will be a challenge as Cornell will face first place Penn on Friday and then finish up with the second place Princeton on Saturday.
Last time against Penn, the Red traveled to Philadelphia to play the Quakers and lost by 15 points, 60-55. Junior forward Nia Marshall led the scoring with 17 points and three rebounds. Campbell had five points and five rebounds. Against Princeton, the score was similar, with the Red getting another loss, 71-51.
“We learned a lot from the last time we played them and hope to put those lessons in action,” said junior forward Nicholle Aston. “It is no secret that both of these teams have physicality and length that challenged us last time and our practices this week have focused on rising to that challenge not only for ourselves but for Maddie.”
Campbell herself is prepared for the physicality of the Penn and Princeton teams, something that falls heavily on the shoulders of the bigs down low in the paint.
“We learned from our last time facing Penn and Princeton that we have to be tough,” Campbell said. “They are big and athletic, and we have to be tougher than them if we want to win. Of course we have great strategies and game plans, but at the end of the day we have to be willing to do everything it takes to win.”
This weekend there’s more than enough energy to go around and spur on the Red in their last home games. Friday against Penn is the Play4Kay game benefiting breast cancer research. The next day, Campbell will take the floor at Newman for her last time on Saturday in front of a crowd full of friends and family.
Despite the excitement surrounding her senior night, Campbell remains focused on the team and their shared goals
“It’s been a really emotional week, both because we want a win more than anything this weekend, and also because my basketball career is coming to a close,” Campbell said. “More than anything I am trying to focus on beating Penn and Princeton more than the fact it is senior night. After the game I’ll let myself feel all the emotions that come with your final home game.”
Her teammates have been vocal about how much her presence will be missed.
“I came with Maddie three years ago and I can honestly say she is one of the most reliable people I have ever met,” Aston said. “She has given her heart and soul to the program and in return the whole team trusts and loves her unconditionally. To know someone who has your back both on and off the court is hard to come by and is a testament to how valuable and rare of an individual she is.”
Head coach Dayna Smith said she knew when Maddie looked to transfer from UC Santa Barbara after her sophomore year that she would make a difference for Cornell.
“From day one Maddie has been such a hard worker,” Smith said. ”She leads by example … gives her best every day. When she transferred here three years ago I knew she would be a leader. She is someone every person on our team respects and looks up to.”
It will be a bittersweet weekend, but Campbell looks back on the team and the years she has spent as part of the Red fondly.
“Most of all I will miss the team, both hanging out with everyone and seeing them everyday, plus working hard with a group of people,” Campbell said. “It’s pretty amazing that I got to play the sport I love with a group of people I love.”