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January 28, 2009

 

Red Dragons’ streak tested

Red Dragons

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland’s Jessica Laing (11) keeps an eye on Brockport defender Brenlyn Campbell (30) during first half play at Corey Gymasium Tuesday. Laing scored 20 points in the 70-59 Red Dragons victory.

By ALAN BUTLER
Sports Editor

SUNY Cortland women never trailed while remaining unbeaten against conference competition and securing their eighth straight basketball victory.
But the Red Dragons never exactly felt comfortable, either, as visiting Brockport provided a huge second half challenge before the SUNY Athletic Conference leaders pulled away in the late going for a 70-59 victory on their Corey Gymnasium home floor Tuesday night.
In this rematch of last year’s playoff title game won by Brockport, the Red Dragons displayed the offensive balance that will be needed in this quest to stay atop the SUNYAC standings. Junior forward Jessica Laing finished with a game-high 20 points, sophomore Jennifer Patten came up huge in the second half when she scored 14 of her 16 points and steady senior point guard Kristin Ciccone added 10 points and four assists. Sophomore guard Jennifer Polan with nine points and senior forward Ali Canale with eight points, the two other Red Dragon starters, were also productive.
“This was a good game to pull out,” said Coach Jeannette Mosher, her Red Dragons now a perfect 7-0 in conference play with 14-2 overall credentials.
Cortland has had little to worry about during this win streak, the previous seven victories coming by 40, 28, 31, 34, 24, 29 and 32-point winning margins. That will change heading down the home stretch of the regular season.
Brockport (3-3 SUNYAC, 8-7 overall) certainly provided the first stiff test in a while as senior forward Brenlyn Campbell scored 19 points, Whitney Smith 16 (including four 3-pointers) and guard Jen Buskus 10 points to give the Red Dragons fits.
“The next couple of games will show what we’re made of,” said Laing, who just missed out on her 14th double-double of the season while grabbing nine rebounds to go along with her 20 points — two above her 18.3 points per game average coming into the evening. “We’ve been getting better. We just struggled a bit tonight, so we’ll have to play together and just play better.”
“Everyone is looking for us to drop a game, waiting for someone else to do it or to do it themselves, so we have to be ready,” said Coach Mosher, as potent Potsdam will be the next bunch looking to knock off the league leaders when they visit Corey Gymnasium Friday for a 6 p.m. tipoff.
A BROCKPORT TEAM hit hard by graduation, and with Nicole Beauregard taking over the coaching reins after Michele Carron had been on the sidelines for the past 16 seasons, looked overmatched early.
Laing tossed in a lefty shot in the lane, Canale made a pair of free throws and Patten scored off a Palen assist as Cortland scoring the opening six points. Laing scored seven straight Red Dragon points over one stretch, and when freshman Michelle Volpini scored in the lane hosts held a 23-9 lead nearly midway through the opening stanza.
Brockport slowed Cortland down with a zone defense and was within 25-21 when Ciccone nailed a 3-pointer to get the Red Dragons back on track. When Canale scored inside off a Laing assist with 38 seconds to go, Cortland took a 32-23 lead into halftime.
Then it was a matter of responding to second half challenges for Cortland. “We went in spurts every once in a while,” is how Laing put it.
A Campbell three-point play pulled Brockport to within 35-34, only to have the Red Dragons go on a 9-2 run featuring a 3-point Patten shot from the top of the key and a Laing three-point play in the low post after Ciccone grabbed an offensive rebound.
Brockport pulled to within four points twice, only to have Patten respond with a lay-up off a Canale assist and another trey. Over the final six minutes the Red Dragons refused to relinquish the lead — Brockport missing a 3-point shot that would have tied things at 57-57 with over three minutes to play — by going 16-for-18 from the free throw line when it mattered most.
The only Red Dragon basket scored down the stretch was another Canale-to-Patten layup — team captain Canale’s fifth assist of the contest — that put Cortland ahead 60-54 with 2:36 left to play.
Cortland was 23-for-28 from the free throw line for the game. That accuracy helps win tight games, especially with the defense struggling in the second half. After making just 9-of-29 shots over the opening 20 minutes, Brockport shot 43 percent of the floor and connected on four 3-pointers during its second half revival.
LAING WAS named SUNYAC Player of the Week for the third time this season, her second straight such honor.
She tallied 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in a 75-46 victory over Albany College of Pharmacy last Wednesday and two nights put together a 17-point, 11-rebound, five steals and two blocked shots state line in a 69-37 win over Fredonia.

Cortland 70, Brockport 59
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Brockport (8-7) 59: Brewer 0-4 2-2 2, Buskus 2-8 5-6 10, Campbell 8-20 3-5 19, W. Smith 6-17 0-0 16, Csakany 1-3 0-02, Yohannes 0-0 0-0 0, Matthews 3-4 1-1 7, J. Smith 1-1 0-0 3, Bushey 0-0 0-0 0. Team totals: 21-57 11-14 59
Cortland (14-2) 70: Laing 6-13 8-11 20, Polan 3-10 1-1 9, Patten 4-8 7-8 16, Ciccone 3-9 2-2 10, Canale 3-5 2-2 8, Biordi 0-6 2-2 2, Volpini 2-5 1-2 5, Bruns 0-0 0-0 0. Team totals: 21-56 23-28 70
By periods:
SUNY Brockport 23 36 — 59
SUNY Cortland 32 38 — 70
3-point goals: Brockport (6-16)- Buskus 1-3, W. Smith 4-12, J. Smith 1-1. Cortland (5-17)- Laing 0-3, Polan 2-5, Patten 1-1, Ciccone 2-4, Biordi 0-2, Volpini 1-0-2
Rebounds: Cortland 36 (Laing 9), Brockport 35 (Matthews 10). Assists: Cortland 14 (Canale 5), Brockport 14 (Brewer 6). Team fouls: Brockport 16, Cortland 9. Fouled out: Matthews (Brockport)
Officials: Schmidt, Beauseigneur, Lorenzetti