The Cornell women’s basketball team unleashed back-to-back victories against Yale and Brown this past weekend, climbing back into the Ivy League race with a pair of road wins.
“Back-to-back nights are never easy, not only because of the physical toll but also the mental aspect,” said junior forward Lauren Bagwell-Katalinich, whose double-double on Friday and 17 points on Saturday paced Cornell. “You can’t afford to let Friday’s result affect how you play on Saturday.”
Despite being on the road, the Red (9-10, 3-5 Ivy) downed its competition, beating Brown (9-15, 1-7), 65-53, before defeating Yale (15-8, 5-3) in a tight 43-41 contest. The Red is still two games out of the Ivy League’s top four, but reasserted itself as a team that can compete in the league.
As a team, Cornell shot an impressive 43.8 percent from the field in the game against the Bears, while Brown lagged with 29.2 percent. The most positive aspect of the contest for the visitors was the performance by Bagwell-Katalinich, who turned in 14 points and 14 rebounds. Along with double-digit numbers in the point and rebound categories, she was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
After Cornell’s losses to Dartmouth and Harvard last weekend, Bagwell-Katalinich led the team to an impactful victory, shifting the tide of its Ivy season. The Red consistently scored over 15 points per quarter while holding Brown to only 17 points total in the third and fourth quarters. Though the Bears rank last in the Ivy League, the much-needed victory may have given the Red a confidence boost for its win at Yale the next night.
“Brown was a unique game for us because our styles are so different; they love to run the score up and we prefer a defensive game,” Bagwell-Katalinich said. “Brown has some really talented scorers, but I thought we played solid team defense against them and took them out of their rhythm.”
Perhaps the more interesting victory was the one overw Yale — an “absolute battle” according to Bagwell-Katalinich. Yale is currently two spots ahead of Cornell and in third place of the Ancient Eight.
Cornell started the game slowly, scoring only six points in the second quarter. But the team still managed to fight back in the third and fourth quarters, emerging victorious in a low-scoring affair.
Saturday’s game against the Bulldogs was decided by a much tighter margin than the one at Brown. Cornell, however, struggled from an efficiency standpoint compared to Friday’s matchup.
Despite having a lower field-goal percentage of just 28.6 percent, Cornell fared well against Yale. Bagwell-Katalinich again led the team and scored more points than against Brown, finishing with 17 points on 5-for-15 shooting. Bagwell-Katalinich and freshman forward Theresa Grace Mbanefo each had nine rebounds.
The win against the higher-ranked Bulldogs could be a big-time boost for Cornell in its hopes of competing in the Ivy League. Yale previously defeated both Harvard and Dartmouth, two squads Cornell lost to before last weekend’s games.
“The shots weren’t really falling for either team, and it became pretty obvious that defense was going to decide the game,” Bagwell-Katalinich said.
With momentum swung its way, Cornell’s biggest challenge of the year so far is imminent: The Red will face Penn and Princeton — the conference’s top two teams — on the road next weekend.
“At this point in the season, we’ve played every team and we know what adjustments we have to make to get a win,” Bagwell-Katalinich said. “Penn and Princeton are both tough teams to play, especially at home, but this past weekend proved to us that we’re capable of playing hard for 40 minutes and finishing close games.”