Nearly five hours away from its home court and in the heart of New York City last Saturday, the Cornell women’s basketball team was able to blot out the bright lights just long enough to pull off its first conference win of the season, against Columbia.
“Columbia’s a very hard environment to play in,” said senior Janée Davis. “[H]aving that confidence throughout …. and just playing in front of that crowd and never letting them really get the momentum back was a huge deal for us.”
However, despite the motivational win last weekend, the Red will look to have a quick turnaround. The squad is set to face the same Columbia team once again this Saturday on home court, and will look to pull out its ninth consecutive win against the Lions.
By far the star of the show last Saturday was sophomore Samantha Widmann. Widmann dominated the court for 22 points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes of play — a performance which also notched her the Ivy League Player of the Week this week.
Junior guard Samantha Clement also notched 15 points for her seventh double-figure game in 11 starts.
“We were all just so hungry for it,” Clement said. “We drilled really hard for a week, preparing for Columbia, and I think that [our previous Ivy games] were really good preparation for Columbia and we knew what to expect in the Ivy League.”
With a major key to last weekend’s win being the defense and work under the glass, Cornell will look to continue to maintain its rebounding advantage over the Lions this weekend.
“Our biggest area, I think that we were so happy with, was our rebounding,” Smith said. “We not only beat them on the boards, but held them to six offensive boards, so that means our defense was playing tough and we were able to finish the possession and not give them another chance.”
In addition, one of the main obstacles on the defensive end will be Columbia’s Camille Zimmerman. Ranked 10th nationally in points scored during her junior year, the senior guard broke the all-time record for most career points scored by any Columbia basketball player in Saturday’s game.
“[Zimmerman] had 22 points and really did a lot of things against us,” Smith said. “We just have to play better team defense against her.”
In terms of the offensive end, the Red will look to execute plays more consistently. While Cornell was able to keep its distance in the scoreboards, the squad would continually take its foot off the pedal through the game.
“[We] were good in spurts but had a lot of lapses for two, three minutes,” Smith said.
Tip off against Columbia will be this Saturday, Jan. 27 in Newman Arena.