Strong start carries Cornell into MWC title game
News Photo
Grinnell College
Women's Basketball - Fri, Feb. 24, 2017

MOUNT VERNON – Cornell fed off a near-capacity crowd early and cruised to a 62-47 wire-to-wire victory over fourth-seeded Grinnell in the semifinals of the Midwest Conference Women's Basketball Tournament Friday night inside the Small Multi-Sport Center.

The top-seeded Rams (20-4) advance to the championship game for the third time in four years. They'll host three-time defending tourney champion St. Norbert (19-5) at 3 p.m. Saturday for an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Tournament. The No. 2 seed Green Knights moved on with a 70-49 victory over Ripon.

Cornell clinched the third 20-win season in program history, all coming in the past five years under head coach Brent Brase.

The MWC regular-season champions, winners of seven straight games, overwhelmed the Pioneers (14-10) in the opening 20 minutes, building a 36-16 bulge at intermission. Cornell's pressure limited Grinnell to 3-of-21 shooting (14.3 percent) in the first half.

Point guard Haley Grana (JR/Belvidere, Ill.) gave the Rams a spark early, netting all 13 of her points in the opening half, just one shy of her career high. Diamond Boyd (SR/Elk Grove Village, Ill.) registered her 11th double-double of the campaign with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Sierro Bisso pitched in 10 points, while Anne Visser (FR/Cedar Rapids, Iowa) and Tal Neilly (JR/Windsor Heights, Iowa) added eight apiece. Neilly's strong game off the bench included four assists and two steals.

Senior Madie Rinehart (SR/Scottsdale, Ariz.) became Cornell's new leader for blocked shots in a career with three rejections against the Pioneers. The 6-foot center raised her career total to 117, breaking the mark of 114 held by Maggie Hogen (2012-16).

The Rams dominated Grinnell inside, owning a 42-27 rebounding advantage and outscoring the guests in the paint, 28-14. Cornell forced 20 turnovers, with Boyd, Bisso and Grana collecting three steals apiece.

Cornell scored the first nine points of the game and held Grinnell without a field goal until the 3:14 mark of the first quarter. The Rams led 23-11 after one period and stretched the margin to 20 points at halftime behind buckets from Bisso, Grana and Visser.

Cornell shot 40.8 percent for the game, Grinnell 28.6.

Kayla Morrissey paced the Pioneers with 20 points. The MWC's leading scorer went 12-of-14 from the foul line.

Grinnell College 14-10115112047
Cornell College 20-42313101662
Feb. 24, 2017
Mount Vernon, Iowa (Multi-Sport Center)
Attendance: 1,060
Grinnell CollegeIndv. LeadersCornell College
#42 Kayla Morrissey - 20Points #11 Diamond Boyd - 14
#11 Alex Neckopulos - 7Rebounds #11 Diamond Boyd - 13
#10 Sophia Gatton - 3Assists #10 Tal Neilly - 4
Grinnell CollegeTeam StatisticsCornell College
28.6% (14 - 49) Field Goals % 40.8% (20 - 49)
25% (5 - 20) 3 Point Field Goals % 28.6% (4 - 14)
73.7% (14 - 19) Free Throws 66.7% (18 - 27)
27Rebounds 42
8Assists 13
19Turnovers 20
62nd Chance Pts 6