Katie Sims / Sun Staff Photographer

The Red are still searching for a starting five as the season begins to pick up.

November 15, 2017

Women’s Basketball Looks to Improve on Mistakes After Slow Start to Season

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Focusing on teamwork and chemistry on and off the court, Cornell women’s basketball finds itself winless after dropping its first two games of the season to Loyola and Pittsburgh. Although the team came up empty in its first two contests, the Red did find some value in the road trip where a variety of new faces were able to see their first minutes on the floor.

After losing all five starters from last year, it is important that the Red (0-2) finds a new lineup of players that will not only start games, but also take on leadership roles as the team looks for its first wins of the season.

Head Coach Dayna Smith has not yet established a concrete starting five, but one thing she is certain of is that the new unit will need to have chemistry.

An upcoming game against Colgate could allow Smith to test potential lineups.

“Developing a group of players that connect on the court is going to be what we use this non-conference [matchup] for,” she said. “I like to see who can start the game off strong, who may be a spark off the bench and who can provide scoring and defense in certain situations.”

Although the first two games of the season did not end up with the results the Red had hoped for, there were still some positive takeaways for a few individual players. Against Loyola (1-1), sophomore Samantha Widmann finished with a career high 19 points while senior Christine Ehland and sophomore Dylan Higgins finished the game with 10 and seven points, respectively, also both career highs.

While the offense soared against the Greyhounds, the scoring unit struggled against Pitt (2-0). After dropping a respectable 63 points in Baltimore, the team failed to break 40 points against the Panthers.

In Pittsburgh, a crowd of over 10,000 provided energy behind the home team throughout the contest. The game blew wide open in the fourth quarter as the Red’s defense crumbled and allowed 26 points.

The team is treating its first two games of the season as measurements of what it needs to work on as it looks forward to Ivy League play. As the more experienced players look to identify what the team’s biggest obstacles will be going forward, senior guard Janeé Dennis believes that many of the challenges the Red will face may be due to the team’s youth relative to last year’s squad.

“I believe that our biggest challenge will be having such a young team with only two seniors and two juniors,” she said. “A lot of the mistakes and turnovers we are seeing early in the season are simply due to lack of game experience and losing five starters from last season.”

Smith also identified turnovers as a glaring weakness for this inexperienced team.

“We can’t have our ball handlers turning the ball over early in the game,” she said. “It sets a poor tone. We will continue to work on valuing possessions and making smarter decisions as a team.”

The team will take this learning experiences with poise as it looks to patch up its weaknesses before heading into league contests.

“I’m looking forward to how much we will grow as a team, and for our offense to start to consistently click,” Dennis said. “We have a lot of potential but we still have a lot of work to do for future games and before Ivy play.”

The Red will play the season’s first matchup on East Hill against Colgate (1-1) this week, looking to capitalize on the home court advantage to secure its first win.

This will be the 38th meeting between the Red and the Raiders, making it the longest series in program history — not including Ivy League play. With a win, Cornell would improve the all-time record against its oldest non-conference rival to 23-15.

Action starts Thursday at 7 p.m. at Newman Arena.