A week after its best offensive weekend of the season, the Red will be back in action tonight against Dartmouth — the Ivy League’s best defensive team. Cornell (9-13, 5-5 Ivy) will then have the pleasure of playing Harvard — the league’s best offensive team — tomorrow, both games being played at Newman Arena.
The game against Dartmouth (14-9, 9-0) will be the 61st meeting between the two teams, with the Green having won 50 of them, including 13 of the last 15 games. The Green won the last contest earlier this season, 55-36. In addition to dominating its series with Cornell, Dartmouth is also currently dominating the Ivy League.
This season, the Red is shooting 39.6 percent — good enough for third place in the Ivy League. Not bad, but it doesn’t compare to the Red’s 54 percent shooting performance over the weekend. Cornell opened the weekend shooting 20-of-26 in the first half against Yale (10-14, 3-7), and never looked back, beating the Bulldogs, 80-62, and then downing Brown (3-21, 1-9), 68-58.
[img_assist|nid=35452|title=Break a leg|desc=Women’s basketball cruised by both Brown and Yale this weekend. The team currently stands at 4th in the Ivy League.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
1,249 high school seniors were accepted to Cornell’s class of 2013 as early-decision applicants in mid-December. Of them, five will join the women’s basketball team next season as the newest members of the Red, including a McDonald’s All-American.
“The recruiting process in the last four to five years has really expanded,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “The process to recruit a freshman is a two, three, four-year process now. The recruits we’ve seen we’ve known about for a few years and we’ve, been corresponding with them. The entire month of July, we’re on the road almost the entire 30 days.”
In two losses over the past weekend, the Red’s opponents shot 49 percent and 59 percent from the field. After watching the Tigers and Quakers hit every shot imaginable last weekend, it only gets harder this weekend as the Red will face the Ivy League’s top two teams.
[img_assist|nid=35081|title=No crab dribble|desc=Junior guard Lauren Benson (23) will need to be at the top of her game against Dartmouth’s league-leading defense.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The last time Penn and Princeton visited Ithaca, Cornell needed to beat both teams to stay alive in the race for the Ivy title. They did just that, outscoring the Tigers and Quakers by a combined 32 points before triumphing over Dartmouth for the right to represent the Ivy League in the NCAA Tournament.
The Red (7-9, 3-1 Ivy) are again already battling Dartmouth (8-9, 3-0) for first place in the conference standings, and this weekend is Cornell’s last opportunity to log some more wins before traveling to play Ivy powerhouses Harvard (10-7, 2-1) and Dartmouth.
Prior to last weekend, the last time the Red won a game away from Newman Arena was over ten months ago when Cornell beat Dartmouth for the right to play in the NCAA tournament. The women’s basketball team finally ended the away losing streak, beating Brown, 74-62, and Yale, 57-42, which were also the team’s first wins outside of New York in over 11 months.
The Red (6-9, 2-1 Ivy) opened the weekend at Brown (3-14, 1-2) where it had its highest scoring game of the season with 74 points. Junior captain Lauren Benson also had her highest scoring performance of the season, leading the Red with a career-high 20 points.
Last year, the women’s basketball team could do no wrong. The Red rewrote Cornell’s record book en route to the Ivy League Championship, earning the program its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
A lot has changed since last year. At 5-9 overall, the Red (1-1 Ivy) has already matched last year’s loss total. The drastic changes can be attributed to the loss of Jeomi Maduka ’09 and Moina Snyder ’09 in the paint — last year’s two leading scorers.
After finishing up her athletic eligibility last year, Snyder is now a volunteer assistant coach with the team. Despite being named the Ivy League Player of the Year last season, Maduka decided to focus on her track and field career — where she is a 13 time Ivy champion as well as a three-time All-American.
For the women’s basketball team, last weekend’s loss to Columbia marked its third straight loss to a team that the Red beat last season. While Cornell will have to wait at least a year to avenge its losses to Binghampton and Bucknell, the Red will get another chance to take down the Lions tomorrow at Newman Arena.
During Cornell’s Ivy League championship run last season, Columbia (8-7, 1-0 Ivy) was one of only three teams to beat the Red (4-9, 0-1 Ivy). After beating Columbia 73-57 to open its conference schedule last year, the Red traveled to Columbia the next weekend and lost 76-59 at Levien Gym.
The 2007-08 season will certainly be a tough act to follow — the team captured the school record for wins, the Ivy League Player of the Year award, and not to mention Cornell’s first Ivy League title and trip to the NCAA Tournament. But with its three incoming freshman, two returning starters and one new assistant coach, this very different team is looking for very similar results.
After setting the single-season record for assists last season, junior captain Lauren Benson will again be relied on to run the Red offense.
“Lauren is an extension of the coaching staff,” head coach Dayna Smith said. “We try to give her free reign to be a leader on and off the court.”
Heading into last night’s game against Fairfield, senior captain Shannan Scarselletta was the only player on Cornell’s roster with a 20-point performance under her belt.
In the Red’s 58-54 win to extend its school-record home win streak to 11, Scarselletta became the only current Red player with a 20-point half under her belt.
[img_assist|nid=33954|title=Charging ahead|desc=Junior point guard Lauren Benson directed the Red’s 58-54 win over Fairfield last night, leading Cornell in rebounds and assists, with seven and three, respectively.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]