It wasn’t a half-court buzzer-beater, but it got the job done.
Last Friday evening and just one game after Angela Soriaga nailed a 30-foot jumper as time expired to propel the Dartmouth women’s basketball into overtime against Harvard, Cornell (7-9, 2-1 Ivy) took its turn playing the spoiler last Friday evening.
Karen Force sprinted coast to coast as time wound down before sinking a game-tying layup with less than a second showing on the scoreboard to send the two squads to an additional frame, in which the Crimson (8-8, 1-2) came up short for the second straight occasion, falling to the Big Red 66-64.
The two consecutive losses equal one more than Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith’s squads have incurred in the past two seasons combined and mark the first time since 1994 that the Crimson has suffered two straight Ivy defeats.
That squad, which finished 7-19, compiled Ancient Eight losing streaks of four and five games.
This year’s incarnation snapped its own mini-slump with a 70-58 victory over Columbia (7-9, 1-3), forestalling any worries over repeating the ignominious streaks of 10 years ago.
Cornell 66, Harvard 64
But before Force gave the Big Red a shot to win in overtime, the Crimson surrendered plenty of chances of its own to seal the deal.
“We were in control for much of the game and then basically we missed a lot of shots we usually make,” co-captain Hana Peljto said. “They made a couple of shots down the stretch. I think the fact that they had come back and had the momentum hurt us.”
With just over two minutes remaining in the second half, junior guard Rochelle Bell swished a free throw to complete a three-point play and put Harvard up eight, 54-46.
From that point onward, time seemed to stand still.
In addition to adding a free throw of its own during the next minute, the Crimson sent Force to the line for four attempts, each of which she converted, cutting the margin between the two squads to just five.
“We got them down to 25 or 26 seconds of possession,” Delaney-Smith said. “But then they’d just put their heads down and drive the basket. And they’d get the foul call.”
Still down by five as the seconds ticked off the clock, the Big Red sent sophomore guard Laura Robinson to the line to shoot two and potentially ice the game.
But neither of Robinson’s shots fell and the feisty Cornell squad made Harvard pay.