CORNELL — For a while, the Cornell girls basketball team kept pace with Greenwood on Tuesday night. The Chiefs just couldn’t sustain it for 36 minutes.
Greenwood rode a big second half to a 52-39 win in nonconference action on the road. The Indians went on a 12-0 run in a span of six minutes during the final half to pull away from Cornell for good.
“We had a really good first half,” Cornell coach Marcus Leland said. “I think we did enough in the first half, we were down four points going into halftime. And then we had a stretch in the second half where in 10 minutes we scored four points, and we couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm.”
Turnovers by the Chiefs and offensive rebounds by the Indians spurred the run and made it difficult for Cornell to stop the bleeding. Greenwood capitalized on Cornell giveaways as well as second chance opportunities to continually build its lead.
The Chiefs were finally able to slow the run down when Bryanna Bonander made a shot with 6:57 remaining in the game, which was almost 10 minutes after Cornell had scored its last point.
“Turnovers, that’s the killer. That’s been our killer all year, we just shoot ourselves in the foot,” Leland said. “It changes the whole outlook for us, and that kind of affects us on the defensive end. We get a slow rotation, we give up a layup as a result of the turnover and then that’s when they make their run.”
The contest was tight for most of the first half. After Greenwood opened the game with a 10-4 run, Cornell pulled back into the game with a pair of baskets by Danielle Fasbender and a 3-pointer by Alexis Kramer.
The Indians never led by more than eight in the first half, thanks in large part to Fasbender’s play. The senior scored 12 of Cornell’s 21 points in the half by consistently getting into good position near the hoop.
“She had a nice game,” Leland said of Fasbender. “She’s a solid player, she works hard.”
The teams went into halftime with Greenwood in front 25-21. The Indians started their second-half run with 14:15 left to play in the game, and by the time it was done the deficit was too much to overcome.
Greenwood’s Kelly Nielsen was a menace for Cornell’s defense to try to handle all game long, especially in the second half. She scored 14 points in the final 18 minutes of the contest and finished with a game-high 26 points, accounting for half of the Indians’ points.
The senior killed off a bit of Cornell’s momentum late in the game. After a pair of scores by Erin Crowell put the Chiefs on a 4-0 run, Nielsen pulled off a traditional 3-point play on the other end to put the Indians up by 14 with 4:19 left in regulation.
“She was solid. She was taking it to the hoop and wasn’t afraid of contact. That’s the one big difference in girls basketball games. Those who can handle the contact and want it, they’re going to get strong to the hoop and get those buckets,” Leland said about Nielsen.
Fasbender led Cornell with 14 points, while Crowell, Kierra Walters and Cheyenne Peloquin all scored six.
While it wasn’t the ideal result on Tuesday, Leland can see the Chiefs are making progress.
“Two years ago, a year ago, we wouldn’t have lost that game by 13. We wouldn’t have even been in that game...when you look at the big picture of things, there is improvement in the program. We are getting better, we’re closing that gap. We just need to close that gap between these teams quicker,” he said.
The Chiefs (3-6) travel to Bruce on Friday for the first of five straight road games.
“All those games are really important. Hopefully we can get a couple W’s in the next couple weeks,” Leland said.