With only six games remaining in the 2016-17 regular season, the Cornell women’s basketball team will look to capitalize on another pair of Ivy League matchups this weekend, as the Red plays host to Dartmouth and Harvard, both at Newman Arena.
The Red (12-9, 3-5 Ivy) lost a close contest to Dartmouth earlier in the season and will aim to tie up the season series on Friday. The Green (6-15, 1-7) are struggling in Ivy League play, something the Red will look to take advantage of.
Senior guard and captain Megan LeDuc believes the team will learn from its meeting with Dartmouth earlier in the year to be successful in Friday’s match.
“Now that we’ve faced [Dartmouth] in the Ivy League, we know what changes we need to make in order to win this weekend,” she said. “We’re mainly focusing on rebounding the ball on both ends of the court, as well as reducing turnovers.”
Head coach Dayna Smith believes the Green will provide a challenge despite their unremarkable record.
“Dartmouth has some skilled players, some sharp shooters, and can really shoot from the outside. They are also tall across the board,” she said.
Some of the fixes Cornell needs to make stems from the defense.
“We have to play team defense,” Smith continued. “The last game at Dartmouth we were unfocused, missing assignments in terms of help defense [and] penetration defense, so that’s something we have taken into consideration.”
In comparison to the shooting-oriented Dartmouth team, Harvard poses a different threat to the Red. The Crimson (18-3, 6-2 Ivy) will look to continue its 17-game win streak against Cornell with a fast-paced style of play.
“They like to run, they are a high tempo team — long, tall and probably the second most aggressive team in the league in terms of pushing the ball up and down the court,” Smith said.
To counter this aggressive style, Cornell will look to its centers and rebounders to help in the transition from defense to offense. Smith pointed to “rebounding and boxing out, not letting them have second chances [and] using our defensive rebounds to fuel our break” as keys for a victory against Harvard.
“We need to find the open shooters and have a little more balanced scoring,” she added.
The Red, fifth in the Ivy League with a 3-5 record, will need a strong showing this weekend to keep its hopes of the postseason tournament alive.
“Our main goal this entire season has been to make it to the Ivy League tournament,” LeDuc said. “We need to win most of our upcoming games and that starts with Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend.”
Action gets underway Friday at 6 p.m., then again at 5 p.m. on Saturday as the Red looks to snap a two-game Ivy losing streak.