It was one step forward, one step back for the women’s basketball team on the road last weekend as they slipped back into a four-way tie for first in the Ivy League.
The Bulldogs (5-12, 3-1 Ivy) came back from seven down in the second half to beat Columbia (5-13, 2-2 Ivy) 66-59 on Friday night moving into sole possession of first place with a Princeton loss to Dartmouth (6-12, 3-1 Ivy) that same night. The Elis fell to Cornell (11-6, 3-1 Ivy) 62-54 on Saturday, however, moving them into a tie with Dartmouth, Cornell, and Harvard (10-8, 3-1 Ivy) in the standings.
The Bulldogs came into the weekend riding high after sweeping Brown (1-17, 0-4 Ivy) to start the Ivy League season. The start included the Elis first Ancient Eight road win in almost three years as well as their best Ivy League start in 12 years.
The Bulldogs came out of the gates quick opening up a 14-7 lead on the Lions with 10:48 left in the first half. That lead would quickly evaporate to one point in under two minutes though, as Columbia battled back to take a three-point lead into halftime.
The Lions continued their surge into the second half pushing the lead to seven in just over four minutes. At that point, the Elis rallied together and began their own run, reminding of their earlier comeback from 12 down in the second half at Brown two weeks prior.
“Columbia has always been a tough team to beat, but we played smart down the stretch,” guard Stephanie Marciano ’08 said. “We only had a handful of turnovers in the second half and that was huge.”
The Bulldogs tied the game, 34-34, on forward Melissa Colborne’s ’10 layup with 13:46 left and held narrow leads over the Lions for the rest of the way. With 41 seconds left in the game, Colborne found forward Mady Gobrecht ’11 under the basket for a layup that pushed the Eli lead to four points helping to seal the game.
“Mel came up big in the second half of the Columbia game by creating scoring opportunities for herself and the team,” Marciano said.
Guard Jamie Van Horne ’09 and forward Lindsey Williams ’11 then iced the game with three more points at the free throw line. The Bulldogs are currently the Ivy League’s best free throw shooting team at 71.6% (through 1/28), an excellent asset for close games such as this one.
Colborne lived up to her all-Ivy League billing in the game scoring 22 points on eight for ten shooting. Colborne is currently second behind Princeton’s Meagan Cowher in Ancient Eight scoring at 15.4 points per game. In addition, Colborne has stepped up her game in Ivy League play, shooting a stellar 55.9 percent compared to her 42.9 percent shooting overall.
Saturday night would not bring the same luck to the Bulldogs. Cornell had just finished a 33-point thrashing of Brown on Friday and came into the game with formidable 7-2 home record.
Like the Columbia game the previous night, the Elis again started strong taking a four point lead with 9:41 left in the half. From there, it was a see-saw battle between the Big Red and Bulldogs with Cornell finishing ahead by one point.
Much like the Lions the night before, the Elis allowed the opposing team to come out strong in the second half as the Big Red took the control of the game opening a 14 point lead with 9:04 left in the game.
Unlike the Columbia game, there was no Bulldog comeback to be found. Whereas the Elis shot 53.6 percent in the second half against the Lions, the Bulldogs could not find the basket against Cornell finishing the half at 28.6 percent from the field, reminding of the Elis’ poor shooting performance at Brown on Jan. 19.
In particular, Bulldog leading scorers Colborne and Van Horne were off the mark for the game, finishing a combined three for 18 from the field and one for eleven from the three-point line.
“I don’t think we made the proper adjustments in the second half,” forward Ashley Carter ‘10 said. “Our offense was very stagnant and we did not do a good enough job crashing the boards.”
Forward Haywood Wright ’10 was a bright spot for the Bulldogs amidst the defeat. Wright came off the bench and scored 16 points on six of 11 shooting. Besides her growing offensive contributions, Wright has been a force on defense for the Bulldogs leading the Ivy League with 1.2 blocks per game.
“Haywood has been playing well all season, but as of late she has stepped up her game,” Marciano said. “Her ability to alter and block shots and rebound the ball will be key for us in these next few games.”
While the loss at Cornell stings, the Bulldogs still rest in first place in the Ivy League standings. Next weekend proves to be even more of a challenge though with games at co-first place teams Harvard and Dartmouth respectively.
“Going into this weekend at 3-1 we are in good position but not at any advantage since we are still on the road,” Brittani Nichols ‘10 said. “Though it does not appear that any team will get through play with only one or two losses, we sure are going to try.”