The Cornell women’s basketball team had a weekend of highs and lows as the team hosted Penn and Princeton for two very special nights. On Friday, the Red welcomed the Quakers, who entered the contest second in the league. The Quakers had previously beat the Red, 65-50, in the last meeting in Philadelphia.
The Friday night game also held special significance for the Red. The game was played under the Play4Kay banner, which means all proceeds goes to cancer research and awareness. Head coach Dayna Smith tried to instill in her players the feeling that this effort had greater ramifications.
“Before our game Friday, coach gave an inspirational talk about what the game means not only for cancer research but what it means to each of us individually,” said junior forward Nicholle Aston. “We each named a person we were playing the game for and it really helped us get motivated for the game.”
The motivation worked and Cornell raised hundreds of dollars for the foundation as well as delivering a loss to Penn. The final score was 51-46 and numerous Cornell players contributed to the effort. Aston had an incredible sixteen points while junior forward Nia Marshall almost got a double double, tallying 13 points, nine rebounds.
Senior guard Maddie Campbell started her last home weekend with a bang, grabbing ten rebounds and added five points.
Smith said she was incredibly proud of the team effort.
“I’m just so happy and proud of the team. It was a gutsy performance,” Dayna said. “[Play 4Kay] means a lot to us … I think our defense really stirred our energy and got us focused on what we needed to do.”
Junior guard Megan LeDuc had high praise for the team’s overall effort.
“We really learned a lot from the first game,” LeDuc said. “We played together the entire time and never panicked when Penn got close. It was a great win all around and we were happy we could do it at our pink game and on senior weekend.”
The next day the team faced Princeton, the top-ranked team in the league who had beaten Cornell earlier in the month, 71-51. This night however, the Red had a greater cause to play for: Campbell was honored on her senior night and played for her last time in Newman Arena against the Tigers.
Despite an outstanding performance from Campbell and her teammates, the Tigers took the win, 94-57. Campbell had a career high of 22 points while also tallying three steals, two rebounds, one block and one assist. The difference maker in this game was shooting. The Tigers shot .673 from the floor and .444 from beyond the arc, forcing Cornell to choose the lesser of two evils in stretching their defense out or packing it in.
Despite a 40-minute effort from the entire home team, Princeton kept up the pace and took home the win.
“Maddie’s senior night game didn’t turn out the way we wanted to but we are thrilled for how she showcased her talents for the last time at Newman,” Aston said. “It was an emotional night for sure but one I am sure none of us will forget.”
“It was a really up-and-down weekend,” Campbell said. “Beating Penn was probably the highlight of the season. Unfortunately, we couldn’t repeat the effort the next night. … But it was still an incredible senior night having so much support from family and friends. My teammates couldn’t be better, and I will definitely miss playing in Bartels with this group of girls.”