Boris Tsang/Sun File Photo

Guard Kate Sramac at the women's basketball game against Columbia on January 25th, 2020.

November 30, 2021

A Tale of Two Sharpshooters: Cornell Women’s Basketball Stars Showcase Adaptability Amidst Pandemic

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Following a buzzer-beating win on Thanksgiving eve against the University of Albany (1-3), junior guard Shannon Mulroy carried the Red (4-3) to victory, this time at Lafayette College (1-5). On Sunday, Mulroy, who finished with a season high 23 points, combined with junior guard KC Carter for six of the Red’s eight three pointers.

“We didn’t play for almost two years, so it was really exciting to get back out there,” Mulroy said. “It was just great to be able to play basketball again, together.”

Although Mulroy was active in the scorebook during her freshman year, averaging 8.3 points in 25 minutes per game, the pandemic has launched her into her current position as a captain for the Red. This year, with the return to normal play, Mulroy is averaging 32.4 minutes per game and serves as the Red’s leading scorer.

For Mulroy and her teammates, the wait was well worth it. However, for 2020 grad and former Cornell basketball sharpshooter Kate Samrac, the pandemic brought on the possibility of a career cut short.

Samrac is finishing her collegiate basketball career at William and Mary (3-2) and pursuing an MBA. With the Red, Samrac led the team in assists, steals and three-point shooting percentages as a junior during the 2019-2020 season. The 5’8’’ guard was a key player for the Red’s lineup, proving herself as a talented ball distributor and aggressive defender, ranking second in the Ivy League in steals per game and seventh in assists per game that same season.

Five games into pre-conference play with the Griffins, Samrac has once again proven herself as a key player and secured a starting spot in all five games. She has played an average of 30 minutes a game with six rebounds and just over five points per game. 

Joining a new athletic and academic program is undoubtedly a transition. For Samrac, many of the lessons she learned from her teammates and coaches at Cornell have helped ease that transition. She has learned that in order for a team to be successful, there needs to be trust between the players, which is built from day one. Although she is a new face on the Griffins’ roster, she is also one of the oldest and most experienced players on the team.

“It’s been an interesting position to navigate through,” Samrac said. “Just building that comradery within the team is so important because when you go through the ups and downs of a season you really need to be able to rely on your teammates.”

In her time with the Red, Samrac learned to be detail-oriented in her play and the importance of being coachable, two things that she believes has allowed her to succeed so far in her new team.

“My freshman year at Cornell I didn’t know anything and I was coached pretty hard and had to respond to that so just knowing how to adjust quickly has been huge for me in being successful here at William and Mary,” Samrac said. 

Beyond the court, Samrac has been able to adjust well to the academic demands of her MBA program.

“[Cornell’s] students are ultra competitive and are always pushing to be the best at what they do and I’m confident that being in that intense environment for four years has prepared me not only for my MBA program but also for the professional world and beyond,” she said.

For Cornell women’s basketball, the pandemic has catapulted young players into leadership roles and created new opportunities for those who graduated in the midst of cancelled seasons. For Mulroy and Samrac, they are certainly making the most out of these unexpected circumstances.

The Red are just six games away from Ivy League play. They will face off against the University of Massachusetts Lowell (2-3) at Newman Arena this Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m.