On Thursday night, Cornell women’s basketball did not disappoint as it took on Niagara at home. The Red earned its second victory in a row by a decisive 82-59 margin.
Cornell was dominant from the very start, opening the game with nine straight points thanks to balanced play. The outstanding performances from across the roster continued the entire game.
It was a real team effort and after the game, head coach Dayna Smith pointed out that the offense was “very balanced” and that “there was a nice balance off the bench.”
To halt the Red’s momentum, Niagara called a timeout with a little less than seven minutes left in the first quarter.
“Niagara is a scrappy team and they weren’t going to stop,” Smith said.
Cornell continued to work well as a team in the first quarter as senior forwards Laura Bagwell-Katalinich and Samantha Widmann added more points to give the Red a 20-13 lead by the end of frame.
Proving Smith’s point, the Purple Eagles narrowed the gap to just two points to start the second quarter. But the Red wasted no time putting more points on the board.
Commenting on how her team shut down Niagara ’s run, Smith said, “Shannon Mulroy had an unbelievable game tonight for a freshman.”
Mulroy converted back-to-back 3-pointers, increasing the Red’s lead to 10. Mulroy finished the night with 14 points and shot 4-of-5 from deep. Cornell went into the locker room at the half leading, 43-32.
The Red allowed only nine points in the third quarter. Widman kicked off Cornell’s 20-point frame with a layup. The captain finished the night with 17 points and eight rebounds.
“Our two captains, I’ve been on them this week to step up,” Smith said. “And I think both Sam and Laura did that tonight.”
Like her fellow captain, Bagwell-Katalinich also played well, notching a season-high 22 points along with six rebounds, four assists and two steals.
The Red got off to a rough start in fourth quarter allowing the Purple Eagles to go on a 6-0 run. But after a Cornell time out, Mulroy sank her fourth 3-pointer to turn around the momentum.
From there, the Red fended off Niagara to clinch the 23-point victory.
Junior forward Halley Miklos had a great night on the glass, helping Cornell maintain its rebounding advantage for this season. Miklos captured seven boards against the Purple Eagles in addition to her five assists and three steals. The Red out-rebounded Niagara, 45-30.
The team had good cohesion all night and as team captain Bagwell-Katalinich stated that the team was “unselfish.”
“We had people with three, four, five assists and because of that, we had five people in double digits,” Bagwell-Katalinich added.
Cornell also has special plans for Thanksgiving.
“Dinner at Coach Smith’s house!” Bagwell-Katalinich said. “It’s not every year you get to spend Thanksgiving with a group like this team — yeah, we’re going to have a good time.”
The Red hits the road on Saturday to take on Delaware State at 7 p.m. in Dover, Delaware.