ITHACA, N.Y. – Freshman Shannon Mulroy scored a career-high 27 points off of seven threes as the Big Red prevailed past the Columbia Lions at Newman Arena in overtime, 80-77, avenging their 10-point loss to Columbia last weekend.
“We were just working the ball around and whoever was open was gonna shoot it, and I just happened to be open,” said Mulroy. “Whoever’s open would knock them down.”
“We took care of the ball,” said Big Red coach Dayna Smith. “We mixed up our defenses a little more; we kept people in front of us and didn’t allow as much penetration.”
The Big Red (8-6, 1-1 Ivy) got off to a shaky start and trailed by as much as seven in the first quarter. They gelled a bit more in the second quarter and trailed by just one at the half. The Lions (10-5, 1-1) held the lead throughout most of the second half and saw their lead go up to seven with less than three minutes left.
Halley Miklos scored four straight for the Big Red to cut it to three, and the lead was reduced to one after a pair of free-throws from the consistent Laura Bagwell-Katalinich.
Columbia freshman Abbey Hsu split a pair of free throws with 1:11 left, then Mulroy stuck a dagger to take a 69-68 Cornell lead.
But Hsu responded with a three of her own with 22 seconds left to go up two. Mulroy drew a foul with five seconds left and hit both shots to tie it. The Lions had two opportunities within those five seconds but failed to convert either to wrap it up in regulation.
The overtime period started slow for both teams, Mulroy and Kate Sramac each hitting a pair of free throws for Cornell and Sienna Durr hitting a pair for the Lions. Sramac hit the first field goal of the overtime session with 52 seconds left, a three to take a five-point lead. Columbia guard Janiya Clemmons hit a jumper with 25 seconds left to cut the Cornell lead to three, and Lillian Kennedy hit a shot to cut it to one with three seconds left.
Samantha Widmann hit a pair of free throws and Hsu missed at the horn as the Big Red were able to hold on.
Widmann scored just nine points but became the 15th member of the Cornell 1,000-point club.
“She’s our hardest worker day in and day out; it’s just a testament to the grit and hard work, [as well as] getting in the gym,” Smith said.
Bagwell-Katalinich notched 19 points and nine rebounds for the Big Red and Kate Sramac posted 14 points and nine rebounds.
“Shannon [Mulroy] stepped up and had a huge game. Laura [Bagwell-Katalinich] was really shut down at Columbia, so I thought she stepped up and really did some nice things for us,” said Smith.
Halley Miklos added eight points and seven rebounds, also contributing on defense in a big way.
Hsu led the Lions with 25 points. Durr added 16, while Kennedy and Clemmons each chipped in 10.
Despite winning, the Big red shot just 39% from the field compared to 46% for the Lions. However, they hauled in 10 more rebounds than the visitors (43-33). Both teams had 20 or more turnovers and personal fouls.
What led the Big Red to the win was their 79% clip from the free-throw line.
“We’ve been focusing on [free-throw shooting] that a lot at practice” said Mulroy. “We haven’t been where we want it, but today we stepped up, and it made a big difference.”
Next weekend, the Big Red host the Brown Bears on Friday and the Yale Bulldogs on Saturday.
“We still have to correct some things on the defensive end, but we put up some big numbers points-wise, so that gives us a lot of confidence” said Smith.
Columbia gets the two teams on opposite days in Levien Gym. All four games will be live on ESPN+.