MOUNT VERNON – Cornell cranked up the defensive pressure in the second half and rolled to its ninth double-digit win of the season, 66-45, over Midwest Conference women's foe Grinnell Wednesday night in the Small Multi-Sport Center.
The 21st-ranked Rams (13-0 overall, 8-0 MWC) stretched their home winning streak to nine games and secured their first winning season since 1999-00. Cornell also went two games up on MWC challengers St. Norbert and Monmouth, both at 6-2 in league play.
Cornell took over after intermission, outscoring the Pioneers (5-7 overall, 4-4 MWC) by a 36-19 margin. The Rams limited the guests to 22.2 percent shooting (6-of-27) while forcing 13 turnovers in the second half to break open a 30-26 lead at halftime.
Sophomore guard Rikki Mulloy paced a balanced offensive attack with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field. Camille Marie and freshman Kellie Kuzmanic pitched in 11 and 10 points, respectively. Taylor Dicus and Chelsea Harris had nine points apiece.
Grinnell pulled to within 35-30 three minutes into the second half. The Rams responded with a game-breaking 19-6 spurt, getting points from seven different players during the span. Kuzmanic capped the run with a 3-pointer that made it 54-36 with 11:12 left to play. The Pioneers never got closer than 15 points the rest of the way.
The Rams shot 51.9 percent (14-of-27) in the second half and finished the game hitting at a 45.6-percent clip. Grinnell managed to shoot just 28.3 percent from the field, becoming the sixth Ram opponent failing to reach the 30.0-percent mark this season.
The Rams won the battle on the boards, 44-36, with Dicus grabbing a team-high eight rebounds. Six-foot-3 freshman Larissa Brewer gave the Rams 12 strong minutes off the bench, finishing with seven rebounds and seven points.
Harris came away with a game-high five steals, while Kathryn Schilling added four. Harris and Kuzmanic each finished with four assists.
Coming up – The Rams hit the road Saturday, Jan. 12 to face the Beloit Buccaneers (2-11, 1-7 MWC) at 3 p.m. in Beloit, Wis. The Buccaneers came up short in their upset bid at Carroll Wednesday, falling 75-74 in overtime.