Cornell women’s basketball kicks off its 2019-20 season on the road tonight at the University at Albany. Coming off a 12-14 season in which it finished fourth in Ivy League play, the Red will hope to continue its turnaround and solidify itself as a force to be reckoned with this season.
What Happened Last Year
The 2018-19 season started with low expectations as the Ivy League’s preseason media poll chose the Red to finish 8th in the conference. Undeterred, head coach Dayna Smith engineered a massive turnaround. After posting a strong home record of 8-4, and notching a 6-8 mark in Ivy play, Cornell found itself in the Ivy Tournament for the first time after coming in at fourth in the conference.
Among the stacked roster, now-senior guard Laura Bagwell-Katalinich and now-senior guard/forward Samatha Widmann played key roles in significantly improving the team’s record. Bagwell-Katalinich played in every game for a total of 751 minutes, while recording the second-highest field goal percentage (45%) on the team along with Widmann.
She also had the highest-free throw percentage along with the most attempts, standing at 84%. Further, she led the team in points and rebounds per game, recording 16.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, respectively.
Widmann trailed behind Bagwell-Katalinich with 10.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Serving as team captain from her sophomore season, she has shown brilliance in leading the team in hard situations. She also has explosiveness, recording four double-doubles and 15 double-digit games in the season. With these two serving as team captains this season, the Red will aim for higher grounds in the upcoming season.
The Red boasts a bevy of talented players at guard. The position is led by senior co-captain Samantha Widmann, who played an instrumental role in the team’s success last year. Joining Widmann are fellow senior guards Danielle Jorgenson and Dylan Higgins.
Jorgenson started in every game and ranked ninth in the conference in assists per game. Higgins saw action in 24 games and posted strong performances against Brown and Dartmouth in crucial conference games.
Along with those three seniors, the team will also have one sophomore and one junior. Sophomore Samantha Will saw plenty of action during her rookie season last year as she played in 23 games. Kate Sramac, a junior, will also take on a larger role this year. Last season, she was moved into a starting spot in the Red’s line-up for the final 19 games.
Three new freshmen — Ania McNicholas, Shannon Mulroy and KC Carter — will attempt to crack the starting lineup, all boasting impressive accolades from their high school careers.
The Red has three senior forwards on the roster, with co-captain Laura Bagwell-Katalinich leading the charge. Senior forwards Reena Olsen and Stephanie Umeh will see an increased role as they emerge as the seniors in the team.
As mentioned before, Bagwell-Katalinich has been the go-to player for the past year, leading the team in points and rebounds per game. Assuming that opposing teams will consistently double-team and pressure whenever Bagwell-Katalinich has the ball in her hands, there are a handful of forwards that can pick up the slack.
Junior forward Halley Miklos is coming off a strong sophomore year, a season in which she averaged 4.7 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. Miklos was responsible for the so-called dirty work, posting up and challenging opponents. Sophomore forward Theresa Grace Mbanefo also enjoyed a strong freshman season, snatching a total of 71 rebounds and leading the team with 21 blocks.
Junior forward Elodie Furey did not play a lot of games last season due to illness, but as she is back in full health, she will be able to contribute far more in the front court. Add in sophomore forward Annika Hoff and four-year letter winner at Bishop O’Connell High School freshman forward Anna Hovis to the mix, and the Red has a competitive front line.