In two tough Ivy contests, the Red faced Harvard on Friday night, taking a heavy loss, followed by Dartmouth on Saturday — with a heartbreaking gap of only two points from the win.
For the Harvard game, star senior captains, guard/forward Samantha Widmann and forward Laura Bagwell-Katalinich, reached double-digit scores for Cornell. However, the team lacked cohesion and didn’t have enough members contributing to the scoreboard to tip the scale in the Red’s favor.
Cornell saw a much closer battle against Dartmouth the following night. Bagwell-Katalinich started the game on a high note, scoring the first two points for the Red.
Bagwell-Katalinich stepped up as a team leader, calling out encouragement to teammates throughout the game and doing her part to boost morale during the disappointing contest — an attitude that aligned with the theme of the annual #DontBearItAlone game. The purpose of the night was raising awareness of mental health on campus, with a focus on erasing the stigma associated with asking for help.
Pre-game, the team wore special warm-ups to honor the cause. Head coach Dayna Smith holds this cause as a priority with her team, attempting to breed a healthy environment for her players to be able to talk about any internal struggles they might be facing.
“[I] let them know that there is an open-door policy within our program and having the necessary resources,” Smith said.
The players worked as a squad to rely on one another to try and pull off a win. Widmann, who recorded 13 points and junior guard Kate Sramac, who had 12, helped Bagwell-Katalinich reach the Red’s final score of 65.
But the upperclassman powerhouse players couldn’t keep the Red from trailing behind the Green by the end of the first quarter with a score of 17-8. Dartmouth pulled further in front during the second quarter, beginning a three-pointer streak.
Bagwell-Katalinich continued to keep up the good morale, and freshman guard Shannon Mulroy and junior forward Halley Miklos seemed to mirror her positive energy when, toward the end of the first half, Cornell showed signs of a comeback. Down only two points with a score of 27 to Dartmouth’s 29, a last-ditch effort at a buzzer-beating shot by senior forward Stephanie Umeh did not prove successful.
At the beginning of the second half, the Red had brought the game to a tie. Dartmouth continued to hit its three-pointers, but Bagwell-Katalinich’s prolific night kept the Red from falling behind.
But Cornell slowed down the stretch and some miscues allowed Dartmouth to regain the lead for good.
“We needed the win … obviously missing nine free shots hurts,” Smith said. “One missed cue on defense, and it affects the game … We just have to get back to doing a lot of basic work.”
Ultimately, Cornell missed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer and Dartmouth prevailed, 67-65.
The Red will hit the road over February break, to take on two more Ivy matchups against Yale and Brown. Cornell defeated the Bears earlier this season, then fell to the Bulldogs the following night in Ithaca. These contests should prove to be exciting, the Red will be hungry for a win as its losing streak currently sits at five games.