Cornell Women’s Basketball

Stories I wrote for Slope Media while covering the Cornell Women’s basketball team during the 2010-11 season.

Rocky start plagues Cornell in loss to Princeton

By Tim Weisberg

Photo by Cornell Athletic Communications

Photo by Cornell Athletic Communications

Published Feb. 25, 2011: They say defense wins championships, but it was the Cornell Big Red offense that struggled mightily in a 71-44 loss to Princeton Friday night at Newman Arena.

The Big Red (5-20, 2-9 Ivy League) trailed the Tigers (20-4, 9-1) for the entire game, and was out of sync from tip off. The Tigers started the game on a 24-8 run, and held the Big Red to 32 percent shooting on the game while shooting 49 percent overall.

According to Big Red head coach Dayna Smith, starting the game off strong is vital to winning in the Ivy League.

“We have to understand, you know, (that) we can’t come out in this league and not show up for any portion of the game, let alone the first four minutes,” Smith said.

“That was definitely something that hurt us right off the bat going down…(Princeton) is a very talented team and we’re really not going to be able to come back against someone like that with that big of a deficit.”

The Big Red trailed the Tigers 38-16 at the half, and was down by as many as 28 points in the second half.

According to Big Red forward Claire Fitzpatrick, the team has had a tendency to get down early, making it increasingly difficult to climb back into the game.

“The last couple of Ivy League games we dug ourselves a hole,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think the momentum for the first four minutes is key to us. That momentum needs to come from the tip (off) and when we lose that momentum we kind of crumble as a team.”

The Big Red hopes to play consistent basketball for all 40 minutes when they host Penn tomorrow night on Senior Day.

The Big Red’s lone senior, Susie Doyle, is also the last remaining member of the Big Red’s 2008 Ivy League championship team.

For Fitzpatrick, the Big Red wants to win one for Doyle in the last game of her Cornell career.

“It’s a really special day (tomorrow) for Susie (Doyle),” she said. “She’s done a great job. I think she deserves it and we owe it to her. I think it will be really special for us to get a win tomorrow (night).”

The Big Red close out the regular season next weekend when they travel to Brown to take on the Bears March 4, followed by a trip to Yale March 5.

But for coach Smith, the Big Red can start by commemorating the career of the team’s only senior tomorrow night against Penn.

“I think our team and our program owes that to Susie, to come out and play every single person’s individual best for her and represent her,” she said. “We want to honor her with a good effort on the basketball court (tomorrow night).”

Big Red fail to trim early deficit, fall to Brown

By Tim Weisberg

Published: Feb. 5, 2011: It was a tale of two halves for the Big Red women’s basketball team, unable to overcome a poor first half in a 66-53 loss to the Brown Bears Saturday night at Newman Arena.

The Bears (5-15, 1-5 Ivy League) snapped an eight-game losing streak, holding the Big Red (5-14, 2-3) to 17 points on 29 percent shooting in the first half.

According to Big Red head coach Dayna Smith, the Big Red needed to start the game strong in order to put them in a position to beat the Bears.

“That was part of our game plan,” Smith said. “That we needed to jump on (Brown) in the first four minutes. We really wanted to come out aggressive, but we couldn’t hit shots, couldn’t press…that really hurt us.”

Trailing 33-17 at the half, the Big Red trailed by as many as 22 points in the second half, allowing the Bears to get their first win since a Dec. 30 victory at Monmouth.

Big Red guard Stephanie Long hit a three to cut the Bears lead to 54-41 with 3:45 remaining in the second half, and the Big Red trimmed the lead to as little as 11 points, but could not spark a comeback.

Smith believes the Big Red could have easily beaten a struggling Bears squad, but failed to execute on both ends of the floor.

“We felt like we matched up well against Brown, where we could compete, (but) we didn’t,” she said.

Forward Claire Fitzpatrick led the Big Red with 23 points, connecting on eight of 14 shots, but no other Big Red player scored in double figures.

According to Smith, it comes down to receiving more production from other Big Red players, considering Fitzpatrick scored over 40 percent of the Big Red’s points.

“Some people have to step up (and) contribute,” she said. “That’s what’s needed and that’s what we need to focus on this next week.”

The Big Red hope to snap a three-game slide when they travel to Philadelphia to take on Penn next Friday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.

For Smith, none of the disappointing and tough losses should be taken for granted.

“We can sit and say we had a moral victory in the second half, but that’s beyond us,” she said. “We’re better than that.”

Big Red on target, take care of Dartmouth

By Tim Weisberg

Published Jan. 29, 2011: Maybe a mini winning streak is just what the doctor ordered, an effective prescription for success.

The Big Red (5-12, 2-1 Ivy League) took care of Dartmouth 66-55 Friday night at Newman Arena, posting their first back-to-back wins of the season.

Big Red forward Claire Fitzpatrick hit a three pointer with the shot clock winding down to give the Big Red a 43-42 edge over the Big Green with under 10 minutes left, and the Big Red never looked back

According to Fitzpatrick, the Big Red were able to match up well defensively with the Big Green (4-12, 0-2), playing a disruptive zone against a Big Green team that was starting three forwards.

“I think it really had to do with the energy and our execution (on defense),” Fitzpatrick said. “We had leads before and we let them go and this game we really focused on not letting those leads go.”

The Big Red has been very successful in close games this season, and is 4-1 in games decided by eight points or less.

The Big Red was unselfish with the ball, dishing out 20 assists on 24 made shots.

According to Cornell Big Red head coach Dayna Smith, the Big Red was able to be patient on offense and look for a higher percentage shot.

“Dartmouth is always good at taking away your first option,” Smith said. “So…we were able to work the ball around and I thought we had some really nice looks.”

However, with a team featuring five freshmen and only one senior, Smith believes that the Big Red is still in self-discovery mode, making their next game against a talented Harvard team no small task.

“(Harvard’s) going to be a huge challenge for us but it’s going to be a nice challenge for these young players to kind of see this is where we got to get if we want to win the (Ivy) League.”

The Big Red will host the Crimson tomorrow night at 7 p.m., hoping to extend their winning streak to three games.

For Fitzpatrick, who scored 11 of her 15 points in the second half, this next game will define their season.

“It will definitely be a season changer for us if we are able to come in and win tomorrow (night),” said Fitzpatrick.