After going 2-2 during winter break, the women's basketball team (3-11) will open its Ivy League season at home Saturday against Cornell (8-6).
The Big Red is riding a three-game winning streak into Levien, where it will meet a Lion team that head coach Stephanie Glance thinks has made tremendous leaps during nonconference play.
“I'm really proud of them for that, and I want to be able to carry all that into Ivy League play because we are not the same team from September, and I'm hoping they will build their confidence off that, and I think they can be really competitive,” Glance said.
Columbia, which was picked at the bottom of the preseason Ivy League rankings, will look to reverse its fortune by displaying the confidence the Light Blue coaching staff has worked to instill.
“We need to play with that kind of confidence,” Glance said. “They picked us at the bottom and we're definitely the underdog going in, so what do we have to lose?”
The Lions' last game was nearly two weeks ago when they fell to Stony Brook, 57-54, but Glance said the team took advantage of the long break as an opportunity to further develop players' skill sets.
Glance added that she is happy with the improvements the team has made on the defensive end, most notably committing fewer fouls and protecting the glass. But to match up against the Big Red, the Light Blue will have to play a physical, yet disciplined, brand of defense.
“Cornell is a really scrappy, hard-nosed, tough-minded team,” Glance said. “They are very good defensively and they rely on shooting a lot more free throws than their opponents, and those things tend to go well together.”
The Big Red offense works around its talented frontcourt, which is led by second-team All-Ivy forward Allyson DiMagno, who is averaging 13.6 points and eight rebounds per game. First-year forward Nia Marshall has also made her presence felt in the paint, netting a dozen points and pulling down 6.3 rebounds per game.
Last year, when the two teams met in Levien, Cornell was able to outlast Columbia in a double-overtime marathon, during which DiMagno pulled down 22 boards.
Tipoff in Levien is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.