Cornell women’s basketball finished the nonconference portion of its schedule strong Saturday with a 71-43 victory over the visiting ETSU Buccaneers.
The Big Red got off to a rough start as they turned the ball over six times and trailed by three at the end of the first quarter.
“We were not executing on offense, missing shots, and rebounding is our thing and we had five [offensive] boards in the first half and that’s not much, [we] gotta get second chances,” coach Dayna Smith said.
But senior forward Samantha Widmann had a big first quarter, taking it upon herself to score nine of her team’s 14 points in the quarter.
“We came out a little slow, and we kinda kept the game really interesting,” said Widmann. “We were playing to their game and we normally play on us, so before starting the second half, we knew that we had to get our energy back, so hitting those last couple of shots towards the end really started to get the momentum going.”
Widmann had a huge 17-rebound, 15-point double-double on the afternoon. She’s now just 20 points away from 1,000 on her career and will be the 15th Cornellian to get there.
But the second half was all about the Big Red. The team opened up on a 7-0 run and maintained control the rest of the game.
“We switched up our press a little bit and pushed it back in the half court and we did a little bit more trapping, which was effective,” Smith said.
The leading scorer for the Big Red was Laura Bagwell-Katalinich, who had a very quiet 16 points and also pulled in 10 boards. Kate Sramac chipped in with 12 points, Shannon Mulroy with eight and Dylan Higgins with seven. Higgins has proven to be a consistent bench spark so far this season.
The team entered the game with with an average rebound margin of 13.3 rebounds a game, and that number increased big time as the Big Red out rebounded the Bucs, 51-25.
“We just want it,” said Widmann. “That’s really all that rebounding is, it’s just heart. Coach tells us that all the time.”
A Successful Start
The Big Red finished nonconference play 7-5, but the team hasn’t lost a game by more than 10. Included is two almost upsets against West Virginia and TCU of the Big 12.
“There’s a lot of games that we left out there, [and] we started making mistakes that we have to correct before league play,” Smith said. “But we played a really challenging schedule and I think that the teams that we lost to all have really good records right now and are going to do some nice things in their conference, so I think we had a nice mix of styles that we had to play against.”
The Big Red now wait two weeks until their Ivy League opener against Columbia on the 18th in the Upper West Side. They now have an extended period of time to practice without classes.
“Definitely turnovers,” Widmann said about things the team needs to improve on. “We turn the ball over a lot and just kind of taking advantage of the steals we are getting and turning them into points.”
The Big Red have shown that they are very competitive again this year and will have a great shot to make it back to Ivy Madness. This team could easily have 10 or 11 wins, and haven’t had many cupcake games. All seven of their wins are by double figures, and five of the seven are by 20 or more. This team is very dangerous, and it’s putting the Ivy League on notice.