A 10-14 record for women’s basketball with two games left in the season is not what the team might have hoped for at the season’s onset. But in a disappointing season, sometimes accomplishing the improbable can make the struggles sting a little less — such was the case over the weekend, when Cornell beat Harvard in Cambridge for the first time in 46 years.
But before that historic victory, the Red had to first endure a tough overtime loss to Dartmouth. In the Friday night game, Cornell suffered a heartbreaker despite strong performances by senior guard/forward and captain Samantha Widmann, senior forward and captain Laura Bagwell-Katalinich and junior guard Kate Sramac.
The three were responsible for a total of 66 out of the 79 Cornell points scored, with Widmann and Bagwell-Katalinich both snagging 24. Bagwell-Katalinich also notched 12 rebounds en route to a double-double and added six assists. Sophomore forward Theresa Grace Mbanefo added nine points while playing 33 minutes.
The Red crawled back in what seemed to be a one-sided game, but couldn’t follow through and secure the victory. The Red once trailed by as much as 12 points, after giving up a 17-2 run in the first half.
However, during the latter half of the second quarter, the Red got back in it, sparking a 17-7 run of their own to cut the lead to three before going into the locker room for halftime.
Cornell took on an eight-point lead led by Sramac’s three-pointer in the third quarter. The Red used its full-court press throughout the fourth quarter, invoking multiple turnovers from Dartmouth.
The Red couldn’t capitalize on Dartmouth’s mistakes in regulation, but hung on with two shots from Bagwell-Katalinich to take the game to overtime.
It was Dartmouth who came up clutch in overtime, with Annie McKenna getting a crucial turnover and converting two free throws to secure the 82-79 win.
Though it was a hard-fought loss, the Red rebounded against Harvard, coming out with its first road win in program history against the Crimson. Cornell also ended its eight-game losing streak.
Sramac and Mbanefo played their best games since joining the Red, each recording their first career double-doubles.
Sramac tallied 13 points and 13 rebounds, while Mbaenfo earned 11 points and 12 rebounds. The rebounds turned out to be one of the main factors of the impressive win, as the Red out-rebounded Harvard 48-33 overall, and 22-9 for offensive rebounds.
Harvard trailed 24-5 after a monstrous 20-1 run sparked by Sramac, who shot 3-for-3 from long range during the run, while the home team shot 2-of-12. The Crimson attempted to get back in the game, with freshman Lola Mullaney sparking a 12-0 run in the second quarter.
Still, it wasn’t enough as Cornell’s senior guard Danielle Jorgenson and senior forward Stephanie Umeh scored key baskets and performed strongly on defense to keep Harvard from making a run in the second half. The Red held on to its massive lead made in the first quarter and took the game home with a 55-47 win.
The Red will host its two last games of the regular season back on East Hill. The next game will be against Penn at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 6.