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February 6, 2010

 

Becomes all-time SUNYAC scoring leader —

Laing steals show for Dragons

By ALAN BUTLER
Sports Editor

Even Jessica Laing was impressed by this staggering basketball accomplishment.
The SUNY Cortland senior forward became the all-time SUNY Athletic Conference scoring leader during a 29-point showcase performance that was part of a 90-45 Red Dragons romp over visiting Oswego on Friday night.
“It’s pretty awesome, I’m not going to lie,” said a grinning Laing, who then admitted to being at a loss for words trying to gather thoughts on the 1,981 points she has scored in her four stellar seasons in a Red Dragons uniform.
A pair of free throws with 15:06 remaining in this conference contest at Corey Gymnasium did the trick to the delight of the home folks, moving Laing into the No. 1 slot ahead of the 1,971 points scored by Geneseo’s Katie Smith from 1991-95. Laing came into the game 19 points short of the record, and then put on an offensive show that was just three points shy of her career best.
Laing stole the spotlight from some other nifty things like...
l a 12th straight Cortland victory, which has the Red Dragons holding down first place in the conference with a 12-1 league record. Cortland is 17-3 overall and a game ahead of Oneonta in the conference standings.
l a season-best scoring outburst, a 54-point second half and some 54 percent shooting for the game getting Cortland to those 90 points. The Red Dragons made 19-of-28 second half shots to surpass an 87-point effort against New Paltz back on Jan. 12.
l a 25-point performance by Micki Volpini, the sophomore guard out of Newfield who made 10-of-14 shots from the floor and all four of her free throws. Aggressive junior forward Jennifer Patten would also reach double figures for the Red Dragons with 11 points off the bench.
l a defensive effort that forced Oswego (7-6 SUNYAC, 10-10 overall) into 23 turnovers, the visitors shooting just 27 percent for the game.
No wonder Cortland coach Jeannette Mosher would say afterwards: “That’s probably the best we’ve played all-around all year.”
Having Laing, of course, helps make everyone better.
She made 9-of-13 shots from the floor including a 3-pointer moments after setting the record, was 10-of-12 from the free throw line and yanked down a game-high 14 rebounds — part of the Red Dragons’ 40-25 domination of the backboards.
It was her 16th statistical ‘double-double’ of the season.
THOUGH LAING’S teammates made sure she paid attention to history — “Not bugging me, but always a constant reminder,” she said — the former South Kortright scholastic star was involved in the flow of the game and not all that intent on breaking the record.
“I wasn’t quite sure,” said Laing of where she stood, though she had 14 of the 19 points needed by halftime when Cortland built a 36-21 lead. “I didn’t want to let that be on my mind. I figured it was going to be a tough game so we had to deal with them (Oswego) first.”
Beating Oswego for the second time this season proved to be the easy part, Cortland never trailing after Volpini scored on a lay-up off the opening possession and Laing provided an assist on a Mary Bruns inside basket within the opening minute.
Oswego was within 16-14 when senior guard Rachel Kohrs swished a shot from the side, only to see Cortland score the next 17 points to pull away for keeps. Laing had seven points and Volpini six during that outburst.
“It kind of started from our energy and our defense created some things that got us moving,” said Coach Mosher. “Just the little things we’ve been slowly working on finally came together, so we’re hoping that continues.”
Cortland had runs of 10-0 and 16-3 in the second half to build a 67-35 advantage — and then scored 23 points over the final six minutes of play when Mosher emptied her bench.
“It’s just doing the little things for almost 40 minutes, and that’s what we’ve been trying to do,” added Mosher. “We’ve had spurts where we do it for five minutes, so obviously this was better. The little things we’re seeing are there more consistently and that’s what we’ve been preaching all season long.”
“I was so proud of all the girls tonight,” said Laing. “In practice we go over ‘you have to do this and you have to do that’ and coach is a constant reminder of that, but tonight we really came out and did the small things and we played awesome.”
LAING CAME INTO the game averaging 19.9 points and 12.3 rebounds per game, tops in the SUNYAC. And now she’s just 19 points shy of becoming only the 10th player in Division I history to score 2,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds in a career.
“What she’s done is keep us on the map since her rookie year and we will continue to ride her for as many games as we have left,” said Coach Mosher, Cortland with five more regular season outings before post-season play arrives. Cortland is idle until next Friday night when Potsdam visits.
“But what a great honor for her,” added Mosher of Laing’s conference scoring record. “Hopefully, she’ll continue to tack on some more here the rest of the season.”
Having Volpini’s offensive output, Patten’s big lift off the bench and a career-high 10 assists from senior guard Mirada Lustig gave Laing plenty of support in beating Oswego. The defense came up big, too, as the visiting Lakers without a double digit scorer as Kohrs led the way with nine points.“We have some capable people who can step up, and tonight it just happened to big our big guns and Patten off the bench,” said Mosher. “Those two (Laing and Volpini) need to continue to be our big guns and we need to get some help from someone else. We have two or three of four people who can do that for us on any given night.”
“We’re on a roll right now and hopefully we can keep going,” said Laing. “We’re talking a lot more and picking up our defense a little more. It’s the end of the season so you’ve got to push it. It’s crunch time.”