Cornell Takes Defensive Struggle, 43-41

Alex Cade. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Alex Cade. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale women's basketball has seen its share of great moments in close games this month, including three wins in four games that came down to the last minute of regulation or overtime. On Saturday against an upset-minded Cornell squad, however, the Bulldogs found themselves learning a harsh lesson in another close game. The Big Red broke a 39-39 tie with a pair of free throws at the 2:10 mark and then held off the Bulldogs for a 43-41 win that snapped Yale's 11 game home winning streak. The loss dropped the Bulldogs from second place into a tie for third in the Ivy League standings.

"We've been pretty fortunate because we've been able to learn from wins," said Allison Guth, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "It's never fun to learn from a loss. Today, we really look at the things we could have controlled for the outcome and we come away from this one really disappointed."

Cornell (9-10, 3-5 Ivy), coming off a 65-53 win at Brown Friday night, led for the majority of the first quarter as the Bulldogs shot just 5-for-16. A run late in the second quarter sent Yale (15-8, 5-3 Ivy) into halftime up 21-18.

"We struggled scoring in the first half," said Guth. "We just couldn't put it in. I thought our defense was tremendous at times."

A 10-0 Bulldog run in the third quarter, capped by a layup from sophomore forward Alex Cade, gave Yale a 31-21 lead. But the Big Red chipped away and got that lead down to one heading into the fourth. A three-pointer by Cornell guard Danielle Jorgenson opened the fourth-quarter scoring, starting a back-and forth quarter in which the lead changed hands three times in less than five minutes.

After going ahead 41-39 on a pair of free throws by forward Laura Bagwell-Katalinich at 2:10, however, Cornell never relinquished the lead. After a free throw by junior guard Roxy Barahman got Yale within one, the Bulldogs had a turnover and two missed shots before Bagwell-Katalinich extended the lead to three on a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left.

After sophomore guard Tori Andrew was fouled on a three-point attempt in the final seconds and made one of the first two free throws, she deliberately missed the third. As the ball hit the court players from both teams converged on it, and the Bulldogs could not get a handle on it to attempt another shot.

 "I credit Cornell," said Guth. "We know that they're a team that is well-coached and will fight for 40. We were well-prepared for that. We said we were going to have to be fundamentally sound, and I think our 13 turnovers were pretty rough -- footwork issues, three-second calls in the lane and then just not being sharp with the ball against the zone."

The Bulldogs have now faced every team in the league at least once. Heading into the final six games of the regular season, they will look for consistency after an up-and-down first trip through the league.

"The lessons we take from the first round of Ivy play is that anybody can beat anyone," said Guth. "When we play to our strengths we can be really special, and when we don't pay attention to the fundamentals we can be sloppy."

Yale travels to Dartmouth and Harvard next weekend. The Big Green is two games behind Yale in the standings, and the Bulldogs and Crimson are tied for third after Harvard beat league-leading Penn Saturday night. The top four teams in the regular standings make the Ivy League tournament.

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Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity