For a team that has struggled all year to gain traction in a competitive Ivy League, last weekend’s conference tilts against Yale and Brown offered few signs of a major reversal.
On Friday, Cornell (6-19, 2-10 Ivy) fell to the Bulldogs (15-10, 8-4), 69-56, at the hands of a late-game Yale surge. The Red played well throughout the first half, with a strong second quarter erasing the Bulldogs’ early 10-point lead. Though Cornell only managed to hit a relatively meager 33.9 percent from the floor — continuing a shooting problem that has persisted throughout much of its season — a number of strong performances from the Red kept most of the game close.
Sophomore guard Samantha Widmann and junior guard Samantha Clement — both of whom have been among the Red’s top scorers — logged 15 points a piece and sophomore forward Reena Olsen supported the duo with a career-high 12 points. A seven point run from Widmann brought Cornell within four points of Yale at the half, while a pair of free-throws from Clement in the third gave the Red a one point lead.
Yet that lead was short-lived. Going 0-for-9 from the field in the last seven minutes, the Red stagnated as the Bulldogs raced past them to open-up a double-digit lead.
“I’m still really proud of the way we played in this game,” said head coach Danya Smith. “We had really solid defense and managed to get within four points of Yale with three points to go. It really came down to the wire.”
But if Friday’s game was a well-played loss, then Saturday’s square-off against Brown was an unprecedented blowout — one Smith called “terrible.”
Despite notching a narrow 70-68 win over the Bears just three weeks earlier, Cornell was bested, 85-59, in a landslide loss — the team’s fifth consecutive defeat.
“We took poor shots, had poor execution…[while] Brown’s retiring seniors played with a lot of emotion,” Smith said.
Despite posting fewer turnovers, the Red’s lopsided loss was driven by two anemic statistics: a 26.2 percent shooting rate from the floor — its lowest mark all season in conference play — coupled with skimpy 6.3 percent from downtown.
“I honestly don’t know why we shot that poorly — if we did, we wouldn’t be in that position,” Smith said.
While good news was in short supply Saturday, Smith spoke highly of the sheer breadth of team contributions; Cornell scored 34 points from the bench, compared to four from its opponent.
“Even though we struggled with shooting…we had a lot of inexperienced players really step up,” Smith said.
Cornell only has two more opportunities remaining — tough matchups against Harvard and Dartmouth — to recover confidence and close out its season on a brighter note.
Action starts at home this weekend when the team will honor graduating seniors Janée Dennis, Christine Ehland and Jamie Hill.