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January 13, 2016

Dragons nip defending champs

Hoop

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland’s Caysea Cohen (23) scores her 999th career point, and was on her way to the free-throw line for number 1,000, against Geneseo’s Kayleigh Cavanaugh at the start of the second half Tuesday at Corey Gym.

By ALAN BUTLER
Sports Editor

After reaching a personal milestone, Caysea Cohen went about the task of helping to save the day for SUNY Cortland women’s basketball team.
The senior guard reached 1,000 career points making a free throw while converting a 3-point play some 22 seconds into the second half of Tuesday’s showdown with defending conference champion Geneseo.
Cohen then played a crucial role in the Red Dragons’ second half revival from an 11-point third quarter deficit, scoring the game’s final five points including the decisive 3-pointer from the right corner with 1:18 left to play that were the final points in Cortland’s 57-56 victory.
“They weren’t falling all night, but I’m glad that one did,” said Cohen of the decisive trey that improved Cortland to 3-1 in the SUNY Athletic Conference and 8-3 overall. She had been only 1-for-6 from beyond the 3-point arc before finishing off a 13-point outing with a clutch connection.
Geneseo had three chances to overcome that sudden deficit, the Knights having led throughout the second half. The Corey Gymnasium visitors turned the ball over for the 30th time with a minute to go, but got the ball back after a Cortland missed a shot on the ensuing possession as the shot clock was expiring.
After calling time-out with 23 seconds left, the Knights lost the ball in the lane — but scrambled for a jump ball with the possession arrow in their favor.
After calling another time-out with 6.1 seconds left, a quick 3-pointer from the corner on an in-bounds play was air-balled and Cortland had its comeback victory.
“I give our girls credit,” said Cortland coach Jeannette Mosher. “To get two stops down there against that team was huge.”
“No, no. They didn’t even run the play right,” said disappointed Geneseo coach Scott Hemer of his side’s squandered final chance that left the Knights 2-2 in conference play and 7-4 overall.
“We have to pay better attention to detail,” he added. “We can’t turn the ball over 30 times and expect to win games. The last three games we’ve turned the ball over at an extraordinary rate and we show lapses in our focus. You can’t do that against a very good team, and Cortland’s a very good team.”
THE RED DRAGONS are a mere half-game out of first place in the conference standings while avenging a 61-54 loss to Geneseo in last year’s SUNYAC championship game. Jennifer Deuel led the victors with a game-high 17 points while Cassidy Chapko provided a 14-point offensive spark off the bench.
Some full court defensive pressure helped speed things up and got the Red Dragons going, coming back after Geneseo seemed to take control when a run of nine unanswered points produced a 42-31 third quarter lead.
“We knew we could pressure them and we kind of forgot about it in the first half. We needed to make something happen,” said Cortland’s Mosher.
“That just sparked our energy and really got us going,” said Cohen of Cortland’s success with the press. “We got a lot of stops in a row and got some fast breaks, and that’s what kept us positive and wanting to keep going and just beat them by running.”
The Red Dragons still trailed 53-46 in the fourth quarter when Cohen converted off glass, Deuel finished off a fast break with a layup and Chapko made a pair of free throws. That got Cortland within 53-52 with 4:46 left to play.
Geneseo responded with Katie Vienneau making a 17-footer for her team-high 14th point, followed by Kara Houppert converting the second of two free throw attempts after being fouled trying to convert an offensive rebound — as Geneseo dominated the backboards 35-17 to make up for its turnover troubles.
But up 56-52 with 2:20 left to play, the Knights would not score again.
Cohen muscled in a layup with 1:55 left and was fouled, though she missed the chance to convert another 3-point play. She didn’t miss her scoring opportunity on the next Cortland possession, connecting with the go-ahead 3-pointer.
Cortland’s defense took care things the rest of the way.
“IT SHOWS AS A team we can be mentally tough, each and every one of us,” said Cohen of the comeback win. “As coach says, every win makes the next one a lot more important. That’s our fifth win in a row, and we’re happy we just got this one at home and we play them again next week. We’ve got some preparation to do, but I believe we can do it again.”
Cortland visits Geneseo this coming Tuesday, but has home games against Potsdam Friday night and Plattsburgh Saturday afternoon first.
As far as surpassing 1,000 career points in her third season in Cortland, having spent last year’s junior campaign as an Oneonta Red Dragon, Cohen said: “It’s been a goal of mine, but tonight all I was worried about was getting the win. It’s all about the team first, individual second.”
Cohen now has 1,007 career points, scoring 631 for Cortland and 376 for Oneonta.
It was Geneseo’s second straight loss, having been topped by New Paltz 62-57 before facing Cortland.“It’s disappointing because we were ahead so long in this game, but give Cortland credit,” said Coach Hemer, who also got 12 points from Dana Cohan and 12 rebounds from center Allison McKenna. “They battled and we made too many mistakes down the stretch. You can’t expect to come out of someone else’s home, that is a good team, and make that many mistakes and expect to win.”
“We’re excited, but we only did what we’re suppose to do,” said Coach Mosher of the Cortland escape.
“You have to win these games at home,” she added. “But it’s a great, great win, a fun game, and we got some people in even for a few minutes who made some big plays and that’s good. Some of the girls just need court time, and right now it’s hard to get court time because we just played the best couple of teams. The more court time they get, they’ll get more confidence.”

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