The Cornell women’s basketball team capitalized on the opportunity to improve in the Ivy League standings this weekend, as the team prevailed over Ivy League rivals Dartmouth and Harvard.
The pair of wins represented a redemption for Cornell (14-9, 5-5 Ivy), with the pair of wins coming less than a month after previously suffering consecutive losses to the same two teams on the road.
“We learned a lot about ourselves and about Harvard and Dartmouth the first time we played them,” said senior Kerri Moran. “We came into the games this weekend with more confidence and a better understanding of what each team likes to do and how to exploit their weaknesses.”
Cornell put on an dominant performance in its first weekend game against Dartmouth. Shooting 50 percent from the field and assisting on all but seven field goals, the Red displayed confident shooting and cohesion as a team. In particular, a 25-6 run in the second quarter helped Cornell blow the game wide open and secure the 72-57 win.
The Red was equally as impressive on the other end of the court with its early defensive presence. At one point, the team held its opponents scoreless for almost three minutes. For the game, the Red held Dartmouth to 42 percent shooting and only allowed a single player to score in double figures.
“We really keyed in on certain players and looks in their offense to prevent them from getting easy scores,” said senior Nicholle Aston. “Our emphasis all week was defense and that really came through [against Dartmouth] during the weekend.”
The Red’s following game against Harvard presented a much closer matchup. With both teams struggling offensively, the key to victory once again depended on defensive performance. Cornell managed to secure a close 57-52 win by slightly outperforming their opponents, shooting 36 percent from the field and 27 percent percent from three-point range, while holding the Crimson to 30 percent overall and 26 percent from beyond the arc.
“Harvard has a versatile team and many options of scoring,” said freshman Samantha Widmann. “We [knew we] needed to focus on defense and stopping the ball and then capitalizing on them on the offensive end.”
The win also broke an 18-game losing streak against Harvard.
“The Harvard game was especially important because the seniors have not beat them in our 4 years here and to do that was a huge boost in our confidence,” Moran said.
The success over the weekend was an encouraging sight for the Red, which had lost five of its last six games.
“We struggled in the first half of the Ivy season and we knew we left a lot on the floor,” Widmann said. “We buckled down and knew what we needed to do in order to change the outcomes of these game not only for Harvard, Dartmouth weekend but for future weekends.”
The two wins also helped catapult Cornell from the lower end of the Ivy League standings into a tie for fourth place with Brown. This proves especially crucial as the Red continue to battle for a spot in the Ivy League Basketball Tournament — an invitational tournament for the top-four seeded Ivy League squads.
“The wins were huge for us [in helping] us snap our losing streak and build more confidence going into the rest of the season,” Moran said. “We are coming off two huge wins and are very excited to continue the road to the Ivy League tournament.”
With every game being critical to a spot at the Ivy League Basketball Tournament, the Red will have its next opportunity to solidify an invitation this weekend on the road against Penn this Friday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. and Princeton this Saturday, Feb. 25 at 6 p.m.