WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - The William and Mary Tribe women's basketball team opened up the 2011-12 season in impressive fashion on Friday night, beating the visiting Cornell Big Red, 85-54, in Kaplan Arena. The season-opening win is the second in the last three seasons for the College and starts their year at 1-0. Cornell opens up at 0-1 with the loss.
Junior Janine Aldridge was spectacular for the Tribe on Friday night, leading all scorers with a game-high 24 points on 9-of-11 from the floor including 5-of-6 from three. Classmate Jaclyn McKenna scored 18 of her 20 points in an impressive first half, while also grabbing four rebounds. Senior Katherine DeHenzel stuffed the stat line in the victory, totaling seven points, six assists, five rebounds, and five steals.
William and Mary jumped out to an early, 7-0 lead over the Big Red thanks to some great shooting from Aldridge. Off a pass from DeHenzel, Aldridge buried the team's first shot of the season, a 3-pointer from the top of the arc. After a defensive stop, Aldridge was back at it, getting fouled while hitting another three. With the free throw, the College took a 7-0 lead after just 56 seconds of play.
Withstanding the early onslaught from the Tribe, Cornell fought back and took its first lead of the game at the 4:28 mark on a 3-pointer from Taylor Flynn. The College was able stick with the Big Red thanks to a great stretch of play from McKenna, who scored seven straight points at one point for W&M. Two free throws from the junior center with 1:50 to play started a big W&M run.
With the score 33-32 in favor of the Big Red, William and Mary went on a 9-0 run to close the half. A pair of shots from deep from Aldridge and sophmore Kaitlyn Mathieu, as well as four points from McKenna gave the Green and Gold a 41-33 lead at the break.
McKenna and Aldridge were the story of the first 20 minutes for the College, combing to score 32 of the Tribe's 41 points. McKenna poured in 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-2 from deep, while Aldridge had 14 on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor, including 3-of-4 from three. Even while not scoring in the first half, DeHenzel filled the stat sheet totaling four assists, three rebounds, and three steals. As a team, the Tribe went 14-of-35 (40.0%) from the field in the opening period that included a blistering 6-of-11 (54.5%) from beyond the arc.
After seeing its lead cut to five points in the first three minutes, the College responded with a 14-0 run over the course of the next 3:45 minutes of action to seize control of the game. In the run, the Green and Gold was sparked by junior Emily Correal, who scored 12 points in the second half, finishing the game with 16 points and a game-high seven rebounds. With 13 minutes left in the game, the College had pushed its lead to 61-42.
Cornell cut the lead to 17, 61-44, on a pair of free throws from Allyson DiMagno, only to see the College respond with a 24-5 run over the next nine minutes to seal the convincing win. The Big Red was able to cut in to the lead over the last three minutes, but it would not be nearly enough as William and Mary claimed a 85-54 season-opening win over Cornell.
All four of the Tribe's freshmen saw time in the victory, with Kyla Kerstetter having the most impressive debut. In 13 minutes of play, Kerstetter scored nine points on 3-of-5 shooting, while also tallying two rebounds, two assists, three steals, and one block.
In the victory, the Tribe put on a shooting display for the record books. From the floor, William and Mary went 28-for-61 (40.0%), including an astounding 11-of-17 from three. The 11 3-pointers were the most for the College since February 1, 2009, while the 64.7% shooting from deep was the second-best all-time in school history.
Defensively, especially in the second half, William and Mary was stout, limiting Cornell to shoot just 4-of-25 (.160) in the final 20 minutes. For the game, the Tribe forced 26 turnovers while giving the ball away just 14 times.
The 31-point win for the Tribe on Friday night was the largest in a season-opening win since November 27, 1993 when the College defeated another Ivy League school - Harvard - 100-63.
The William and Mary Tribe women's basketball team will hit the road for the first time this season on Monday, November 14 when the College will play the Richmond Spiders. Tip-off in Richmond is scheduled for 7 p.m., with live stats available at TribeAthletics.com.