Cornell women left with plenty to work on, including shooting, after loss to Duquesne

ITHACA – The Cornell women’s basketball team dropped its second straight game Tuesday, this time falling 82-72 to Duquesne, a team that has now won eight straight.

The Big Red (5-4) got off on an 8-2 run with senior forward Laura Bagwell-Katalinich scoring all eight points. After that run, she only scored nine more points on the night.

“She got tired. She was exerting a ton of energy,” coach Dayna Smith said. “They didn’t really make a change on her, they weren’t doubling her. [Duquesne was] playing behind her a lot in the post, making her work and do some combo move.”

The Dukes (8-2) were powered by Libby Bazelak’s 21 points and Amanda Kalin’s 14 points.

The Big Red played sloppily, turning the ball over 14 times and getting into foul trouble. Halley Miklos and Samantha Widmann each fouled out. The team limited the Dukes to 38% shooting, but most of their points came off of open looks.

“A lot of poor execution on our part,” Smith said. “A lack of detail on screens, a lack of detail on penetrate and jump-stopping, and finding an open player. We didn’t rotate.”

Finishing in second in scoring for the Big Red behind Bagwell-Katalinich was Dylan Higgins with nine. She’s provided a nice spark off the bench for the Big Red this season, as has Theresa Grace Mbanefo. Grace Mbanefo had eight points and six rebounds as well as two blocks.

But besides those two, there hasn’t been any bench production.

“[The bench players] need to be able to execute offense. I think that’s key,” Smith said. “We didn’t get stops, that’s early transition points for us. We gave up 72 [points], we typically don’t give up that many points. I think our bench comes in and does a nice job on the boards, but we don’t finish the putbacks.”

Big Red standout Samantha Widmann was limited to eight points, all eight coming in the second half.

Like the men’s team cheering in the stands, the women’s team has struggled to hit three-pointers. The Big Red were 3-for-16 from deep, and those may be numbers that pop up a lot throughout the season. Shannon Mulroy is a good shooter, but there’s a lot of pressure on her to make shots from downtown. Kate Sramac also has pressure to knock down shots, and Higgins and Danielle Jorgenson need to be able to do so off the bench.

Outside of those four, nobody is a reliable shooter from deeper than mid-range. Bagwell-Katalinich is great from 15 to 17 feet but struggles from any deeper.

The Big Red don’t play again until Dec. 29 when they travel to St. Bonaventure. From there, the team will travel to take on West Virginia in a New Year’s Eve clash in Morgantown.

But Smith says her team has a lot to work on.

“Foul shots, shooting, three-point shooting, execution of our offense, defensive penetration,” Smith said.

We’ll see how the Big Red look in their final few games before conference play.