The Cornell women’s basketball team faces stiff competition this weekend as the Red goes face to face with Ivy League competition in a busy weekend at Helen Newman Arena. On Friday, the squad will compete against Princeton and then play Penn the next day.
Outside of the league competition, these games are especially important, as Friday is Athlete Ally Night — promoting LGBTQ inclusion in sports — and Saturday’s game will be the annual Play 4kay game to fight breast cancer.
Friday’s game against Princeton will be a challenge for the Red, who are in the midst of a 16-game losing streak to the Tigers. A win against the 9-9 New Jersey rivals could not be more important this weekend as the teams fight for a spot in the first Ivy League basketball tournament.
“Princeton is a very athletic team and runs their offensive very crisply,” said senior forward Nicholle Aston. “However, this year we have the advantage of game experience and hope to use that to get us a win.”
Freshman forward Jessica Willerson shares this confidence with her teammate, saying the various types of experience that the team has gained this season will be the difference this go-around.
“This year we have a lot of veteran experience, which will be an advantage to us over a young Princeton team that graduated many last year,” she said.
Though the Red downed the Quakers in the teams’ last matchup, the Red acknowledged the Penn aggression that could could present itself on the hardwood. The 12-6 Quakers are a team to beat as the Red continues its battles within the Ivy League.
“Both teams are tall and athletic, so that physicality against our team will be a test for us — especially when it comes to rebounding,” Aston said.
With the end of the Ivy League tournament around the corner, the team does not feel any added pressure. Instead, the women are focused and using the competition to fuel themselves in practice.
“Competition definitely remains high throughout the Ivy League season, especially since there is now a tournament,” Willerson said. “Any team on any given night can beat any other team in the league. Every game is competitive, which is what makes the Ivy League such a unique conference.”
“The goal right now is to get to the tournament and hopefully make a run,” Aston added. “We come in with the same expectation before each game: win. And with the Ivy League, it is a lot more about strategy than brute force since we know each other so well.”
This weekend will certainly be one to watch for the Red. It all gets underway Friday at 6 p.m.