Cornell women lose heartbreaker at Stony Brook

STONY BROOK, N.Y. – While the Cornell men took their yearly trip up I-81 to take on Syracuse, the women traveled south to Long Island to complete their four game road trip at Stony Brook. Despite overcoming a seven-point deficit at the start of the final frame, the Big Red could not hold onto a late one-point lead and ended up on the losing end of the 63-61 contest. Cornell now sits at 2-5 on the season.

The Red finished the first quarter with a 15-11 lead.  They came out strong defensively, limiting Stony Brook (6-1) to 11 points on 29 percent shooting and holding a 13-7 advantage on the boards.  On offense, they only shot 36 percent from two and committed 6 turnovers, but they did manage to hit two of four three-pointers.

In the second stanza, the Seawolves got hot from the outside to outscore Cornell 21-12.  Stony Brook went on a 14-2 run during a four-minute stretch in the middle of the second quarter, punctuated by Shania “Shorty” Johnson’s back-to-back-to-back three pointers, to turn a 19-14 deficit into a 28-21 lead.  The teams then traded baskets until Samantha Clement hit a jumper to close out the half with Stony Brook ahead 32-27.  For the quarter, Stony Brook hit five of nine three-pointers, while Cornell went 0-for-4 from beyond the arc.

While Cornell clamped down on their opponent’s three point shooting in the third quarter, limiting them to 1-for-9 from downtown, Stony Brook was able to hit seven of 10 shots from close range.  The Big Red went 7-for-14 from two that quarter, including 5-for-10 combined from Laura Bagwell-Katalinich and Samantha Widmann. Cornell continued to struggle from three, though, going 0-for-1 in that frame.  Heading into the last 10 minutes, the Big Red found themselves behind 50-43.

Down 56-51, Bagwell-Katalinich hit two baskets to bring Cornell within one with 4:30 to go.  A steal and layup by Kate Sramac gave the Red the 57-56 lead at the 3:14 mark.  Another Johnson three put Stony Brook back ahead by two with 97 seconds left.  Bagwell-Katalinich then tied the score at 59 with 45 seconds remaining.  With 18 ticks left on the clock, Johnson fed an open Jonae Cox on the baseline, who was fouled by Bagwell-Katalinich as she hit the go-ahead layup.  After Cox’s made free throw put the Seawolves up 62-59, Sramac missed the go-ahead three pointer.

Bagwell-Katalanich rebounded the three with eight seconds to go and hit the putback layup to close the gap to 62-61.  Stony Brook’s India Pagan was fouled with four seconds remaining and made one of two free throws.  With four seconds left, Danielle Jorgensen took the inbounds pass and raced down the right side of the court.  Her shot at he buzzer bounced off the rim, allowing the Seawolves to escape with the win and leaving the Red with a long bus ride back to Ithaca.

Cornell was led by Widmann, who had 19 points and 13 boards, a season high in rebounds and her first double-double of the season.  Bagwell-Katalinich, who missed the last 12 minutes of the first half after picking up her second foul, added 18 points and six rebounds.  For Stony Brook, Anderson, the diminutive 5′ 1″ point guard, had 17 points and six assists, while Jerell Matthews added 15 points and six assists.

The Big Red shot 49 percent from two for the night, including 57 percent (8-for-14) in the fourth quarter.  From three, however, they missed their last nine attempts, going 2-11 for 18 percent.  The Seawolves hit 44 percent from two (14-32), but made nine threes at a 33 percent rate.  Cornell had more points in the paint, 34-22, and points off turnovers, 19-8.  While the teams tied in rebounds with 37 each, there was an eleven minute period between the latter part of the third quarter and early fourth where Stony Brook outrebounded Cornell 16-4 with 10 offensive boards.

While the Big Red can be pleased with a solid effort over a Stony Brook team that was picked second in the America East, defeated Hofstra by 28 (which was beaten by Columbia by two), and beat Penn State by 11 (which won over Princeton by eight in OT), the coach felt this was a lost opportunity.  “I think it boiled down to the number of offensive rebounds we gave.  I think it was six straight possessions in the third quarter and beginning of the fourth quarter, where we gave an o-board up after a really good defense or forcing them into a bad three,” said coach Dayna Smith. “Six possessions is a lot.  That’s a 12-point swing.  We kind of shot ourselves in the foot.”

The team only took 11 three point attempts on the evening, but that did not bother the coach.  “They (Stony Brook) play an aggressive man-to-man, so we’re not going to force them (three point shots).  That was definitely part of the game plan, that they were going to deny and take away outside perimeter shots.” Instead, she was pleased with the team’s ability to adapt to the Seawolves’ defense and pound the ball inside.

The team now heads back to campus for a two week break for Finals.  “We need to get home and take a deep breath,” said the coach.  “It’s a good time for them (the athletes) to take a step back, get themselves in order academically, and rest up a little bit.  For us, it’s a good time to look at film and really focus in on some adjustments we need to make.”