Ben Parker/Sun Senior Editor

Following its win against Colgate, Cornell went 1-2 over its next two contests to even its record to 2-2.

November 18, 2021

Women’s Basketball Starts Season With Victory Over Colgate, Moves to 2-2 Through 4 Games

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In its first game since March 7, 2020, Cornell women’s basketball marked its return to the floor with a dominant 53-32 victory over Colgate on Nov. 10. 

The Red opened up the game with energy, setting the tone by switching off between a 2-3 and 3-2 zone. The stout Cornell defense — anchored by senior forward Theresa Grace Mbanefo — forced early substitutions and errant shots from the Raiders. 

The Red’s first points of the season came on a smooth midrange jumper from junior guard Shannon Mulroy, a key returning player in the Red’s strong backcourt attack. That sweet swish of the net was long awaited for Mulroy and her teammates, who were eager to return to play. 

“We hadn’t played in 613 days, so we were really excited and had so much fun as a unit when we finally got back out there,” Mulroy said. 

Still without a basket halfway through the first quarter, Colgate’s frustration only fed into the Red’s intensity and led to back-to-back baskets from junior guard Olivia Snyder and senior guard Samantha Will. These scores forced the Raiders to take an early timeout in an attempt to stymy Red’s momentum.

Coming out of the timeout, four quick points from the Raiders seemed to quiet down the Red bench. However, junior guard KC Carter and freshman forward Summer Parker-Hall provided the Red the spark it needed by hitting three pointers on back-to-back possessions to extend the Red lead to 17-4 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter was no different: The Red’s intensity captured the momentum of the game and the lead quickly grew to 22-6 before yet another Colgate timeout. Grace Mbanefo continued to dominate the paint on both ends of the floor, recording six points, three blocks and six rebounds in only 12 minutes of play. In the backcourt, Mulroy maintained control over the pace of the game, setting up Snyder with great looks to score, including a full court pass that led to a Snyder layup in stride.

Going into the half, the Red was in the driver’s seat, leading 29-14 and controlling the momentum with its lockdown defense. However, the third quarter began with a role reversal, as the Raiders began applying pressure and forcing off-balance shot attempts from the Red. 

The pressure on defense carried over into the offensive end for Colgate. With control over the pace of the game, the Raiders were able to implement an offense and secure high-percentage shots. Eventually, halfway through the quarter, the Red was forced to take a timeout in an attempt to stop Colgate’s mounting comeback.

This time, it was the Red who responded. Snyder led the charge with a mid-range jumper followed by a relentless effort to secure a loose ball, diving through traffic and forcing Colgate to call yet another timeout. At the end of the third, the Red’s lead held strong at 39-23.

In the fourth quarter, despite a few miscommunications on the offensive end, the Red was able to finish the job. Grace Mbanefo finished with a double-double, posting 14 rebounds and 15 points, leading all players in both categories. The dagger came with just under three minutes remaining when a beautiful passing sequence ended with a powerful and-1 finish by Snyder.

After a commanding 53-32 victory, the Red ventured south for a pair of tough road games against Wake Forest University (3-0) on Nov. 12 and East Tennessee State University (1-3) on Nov. 14. Despite suffering back-to-back losses to these two programs, the Red bounced back Wednesday night in Binghamton with a 10-point victory over the Bearcats (2-1). Mbanefo notched her second double-double of the season (27 points, 13 rebounds), and Snyder joined the fun with a double-double of her own (10 points, 10 rebounds).

While most teams might still be settling into the return of normal competition, the Red came out of the gate ready to win.

 “We are a young team, but it doesn’t matter who we are playing, how big they are or how experienced they are,” Mulroy said. “We just wanna bring the energy every game and play to win.” 

The Red will face off against Fairleigh Dickinson University (0-3) this Saturday at Newman Arena. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m.