January 9, 2012
Revived Cortland women get some revenge
By taking care of the little things their coach has been stressing since pre-season practice, SUNY Cortland women are hoping to make a bigger basketball impact heading into the final two months of the regular season.
The Red Dragons certainly took another step in that direction on Saturday afternoon by avenging an earlier overtime loss to defending SUNY Athletic Conference champion Geneseo, coming away with a crucial 75-66 victory on their Corey Gymnasium home floor.
With the senior trio of Brittany Cohen, Molly Byrne and Micki Volpini leading the way, the Red Dragons have started second semester play with back-to-back victories. They headed into this rematch with Geneseo coming off an impressive 20-point road win at Clarkson earlier in the week.
“I feel like we’re starting to listen and actually executing the little things,” said head coach Jeannette Mosher after the Red Dragons improved to 3-3 in conference play and 8-5 overall.
This Cortland club expected to contend for a conference title had closed out the first semester losing four of its last five games, including a 70-58 loss to William Smith back on Dec. 17. So recovering from that skid with back-to-back victories is encouraging.
“Earlier, in that last game against William Smith, it was frustrating because we still weren’t doing the little things. Now I think we’re slowly getting there,” said Mosher. “And I think that’s our upperclassmen finally stepping up, knowing this is it for them, and then our rookies getting pushed hard in practice. That’s really it. It’s nothing major, just the little things we have to do more consistently, and I feel like today we did that. But it has to continue.”
Senior guard Cohen led Cortland with 18 points, five assists and two steals. Her biggest basket came with 1:03 left and Geneseo within seven points, banking in a crucial shot on a drive to the basket with the shot clock expiring.
Senior guard Byrne finished with 16 points, five assists and two steals. She scored 11 of Cortland’s opening 15 points in a high-scoring first half, including back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers for starters.
Senior Volpini came through with 10 points, five rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals off the bench. Freshman Erin Wolstenholme and Volpini made four straight free throws in the final minute to finish off Geneseo — Oneonta native Wolstenholme with a 12-point contribution in her reserve role.
GENESEO, WHICH GOT 15 points and 11 rebounds from senior guard Katelyn Charbonneau, falls to 2-2 in conference play and 6-4 overall.
Both teams were shooting it well in the opening half while combining for 84 points, Cortland connecting at a 52 percent clip while the Knights made 45 percent of their attempts.
When Cohen swished a 3-pointer with just over four minutes to play in that opening half, Cortland held a 43-31 lead. The Red Dragons did not score again before halftime arrived, however, as Geneseo closed with a 10-point run to make this a 43-41 up-for-grabs contest.
“We said, ‘What do you think their game plan is right now?’ Their game plan is to get the ball inside. They’re either going to score on a lay-up or they’re going to score on a weak double down and an outside shot,” said Coach Mosher of her team’s halftime theme. “We said you cannot let them post up in front of you, and Megan Maycumber did a nice job of setting the tone making sure it wasn’t (passed) so easily in there. I thought that was huge.”
With senior center Maycumber a defensive presence inside, Cortland went on a decisive 17-2 run to open the second half. When Wolstenholme followed up a 3-pointer from the corner with a pair of free throws after being fouled driving the lane, the Red Dragons seemed to be in 60-43 control midway through the second stanza.
Geneseo used some full court defensive pressure, as well as 3-pointers by Charbonneau and Bri Dunton, to chip away at that big deficit. When freshman forward Shannon McGinnis converted a three-point play with 1:33 remaining, the visitors were within 69-62.
But Cohen scored her crucial basket, Wolstenholme and Volpini swished free throws and Cortland survived.
“THEIR PRESS AFFECTED us a little but, but we were finally able to hold our heads and stay strong with the ball and in the end we were able to pull it out,” said Cohen.
“We were playing scared. Our quality guards were not attacking,” said Coach Mosher. “They played a little scared, but we came right back and got it done, and that was huge.”
This coming weekend will also be huge for Cortland, with first place Oneonta visiting Friday night followed by old nemesis New Paltz coming to town for a Saturday afternoon matinee. A sweep will get Cortland right back into first place contention with a lot of basketball still left to be played.
“I think we got back to our original game plan of just getting defensive stops and pushing the ball up the floor,” said Cohen of Cortland’s improved second semester play. “We just have to do a better job of once we get a big lead to keep it a big lead and not let them back in.”
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