The Cornell women's basketball team came up short in a competitive 75-67 game with Iowa Conference leader Simpson Saturday, but the Rams still control their postseason fate heading into the final week of the regular season.
The Rams (8-13 overall, 6-8 IIAC), who also fell 76-57 at Coe Wednesday, stand sixth in the IIAC race with two league games remaining. Cornell and Buena Vista (10-13, 5-9 IIAC) are battling for the final spot into the six-team IIAC Tournament Feb. 21-25.
Cornell is seeking its first postseason berth since 2005-06, head coach Brent Brase's first season at the helm. The Rams are guaranteed a spot with a home win over Buena Vista at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18 in the regular-season finale.
Cornell could clinch as early as Wednesday, Feb. 15 with a win at playoff-bound Dubuque (14-10, 9-6 IIAC), coupled by a Buena Vista loss at home to Luther (6-17, 3-11 IIAC).
The Rams were short-handed last week with junior 1,000-point scorer Camille Marie-Lidd sidelined with an illness. Brase expects his all-conference center to return to the court this week.
Freshman Rikki Mulloy picked up the scoring load, averaging 23.0 points and shooting 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from 3-point range in the two games. She drained five 3-point goals and finished with a game-high 24 points in the Simpson contest that was close throughout.
Cornell, which took Simpson (18-5, 11-3 IIAC) to overtime in an early-season loss, trailed 28-27 at halftime and pulled to within 58-55 on a Caitlin Bisinger 3-pointer with 5:03 to go. Simpson answered with a decisive 7-0 run to stretch the margin to 65-55. A Mulloy 3-pointer made the score 66-61 with 1:39 remaining before the Storm closed out the game from the foul line.
Bisinger provided a boost off the bench with 15 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots in 22 minutes. The sophomore guard netted a pair of 3-pointers and 11 points after intermission to keep the Rams within striking distance.
Cornell got a game-high 11 rebounds from freshman Taylor Dicus, who also had seven points and a pair of steals. Mulloy and Chelsea Harris each had three steals for Cornell, which pressured the guests into 20 turnovers.
Simpson owned a 39-33 edge on the boards and went 19-of-26 from the foul line, all but one of the free throws attempted in the second half. Cornell shot 12-of-21 from the line.
The Rams ran into a hot-shooting Coe team (16-7, 10-4 IIAC), which shot 50.9 percent from the field in the mid-week loss in Cedar Rapids. Mulloy again led the offensive attack with 22 points while going 4-of-10 from long range.
The Kohawks took a 30-20 lead into intermission and expanded the margin behind 54.8 percent shooting in the second half. Harris drained a pair of 3-pointers and finished with 11 points. Kathryn Schilling accounted for four assists and four steals. Dicus added six points and nine rebounds.
Senior Day - Cornell will recognize seniors Teresa Cecchetti, Kelly Tweito, Rose Waskosky and Morgan Woods prior to Saturday's home finale against Buena Vista. Woods heads the class with 74 starts in 92 career games.
Mulloy climbs IIAC ranks - Mulloy enters the week second in the IIAC in scoring at 15.5 points per game, a hair off the pace by Coe's Kayla Waskow (15.6 ppg). She stands fourth in 3-point goals made (40), and sixth in assists (2.9 apg), steals (2.0 spg) and free throw percentage (78.2).
Mulloy has reached the 20-point mark in five of her last seven contests, averaging 20.1 points during the stretch. She has totaled 24 3-point goals in the past seven games.
Coming up - Cornell looks to complete a regular-season sweep over Dubuque Wednesday after scoring a 54-47 home win in December. The Spartans are one of the league's hottest teams, winning nine of their last 11 outings.
The Rams finish at home Saturday against Buena Vista, hoping to avenge a 61-60 loss on Jan. 4 in Storm Lake. Cornell's last win over the Beavers was during the 2005-06 season.