An extremely slow start saw Cornell women’s basketball down a yawning 18 points at the half against Columbia on Saturday before it raced back into contention with a towering third quarter.
But the effort wasn’t enough.
While the Red managed to mount an inspired resurgence — nearly eclipsing the Lions at times — it ultimately failed to narrow the deficit, leaving the team with a 65-57 loss. With the defeat, its first in conference play, the Red slipped to 1-1 in the Ivy League and 7-6 overall.
“The team lacked energy during the first half,” head coach Dayna Smith said. “Poor execution of the press and a lack of intent while rebounding significantly reduced our chances of winning the game.”
Throughout the game, Columbia’s junior guard Janiya Clemmons proved to be Cornell’s kryptonite, blocking each grasp at a comeback. While the Red pulled within a point of the Lions twice in the fourth quarter, the junior answered Cornell’s attempts for a lead each time.
“In the first game against Columbia, we were able to restrict Clemmons to only two points in the entire game,” Smith noted. “However, in the most recent game, Clemmons managed [to score] 16 points thanks to immense aggression in terms of penetration higher up the court.”
Cornell only managed to shoot 13 of 25 from the free throw line, while Columbia also managed to out-rebound the Red by five, ending the game with a formidable 38 rebounds.
“We need to focus more on our free throw shots in order to effectively assert ourselves during a game,” Smith said. “A lack of rebounding during the game definitely cost us crucial points and made it more challenging to reduce the deficit established early in the first half.”
Despite the defeat, the Red delivered a number of performances that kept the team’s chances alive up until the last minutes. Junior forward Laura Bagwell-Katalinich racked up an impressive 19 points and 10 rebounds, while sophomore guard Kate Sramac notched a career high 14 points and made four of her five three-point shots.
“Kate was extremely clinical from the perimeter and contributed important points to the team,” Smith said.
Looking to put Saturday’s defeat in the rearview mirror, the Red now turns its attention to next weekend, when it will experience its first double header of the season against Penn and Princeton — a pair of Ivy rivals that will promise to provide Cornell with stiff competition.
“Both of these teams are packed with tremendous experience, making this one of the most challenging weeks for the squad,” Smith said. “We will need to be more cognizant about our effort … and we will require higher quality production from the bench in order to achieve success during the double header this weekend.”
The Red will first take on Princeton, the reigning Ivy League champion, at home this Thursday at 5 p.m. before squaring off against Penn at 7:30 p.m.