February 22, 2011
SUNYAC Basketball: Rugged road for Cortland women
The road to repeating as SUNY Athletic Conference playoff champions will not be easy.
The SUNY Cortland women’s basketball team is seeded fourth heading into the quarterfinal round of the eight-team conference playoffs, which get underway this evening when the Red Dragons (18-6) play host to fifth-seed Buffalo State (15-9).
Tip-off at the PER Center’s Corey Gymnasium is 7 p.m.
While Geneseo captured the regular season title and top seed for the playoffs, defending champion Cortland ended up sharing second place with Oneonta and New Paltz in the final conference standings. But tie-breaking rules placed Cortland in the perilous fourth slot for the playoffs.
That means Coach Jeannette Mosher’s squad will face a tough Bengals squad this evening, Buffalo State arriving to town winners of five straight games. If the Red Dragons get past that obstacle, they will most likely be hitting the road for Final Four play this Friday and Saturday where the conference champion earns an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III tournament.
Cortland lost twice to top seed Geneseo and second seed Oneonta this season, and split games with third seed New Paltz. Against Buffalo State, Cortland won a 93-86 shootout on the road back on Dec. 3 in the SUNYAC opener for both sides and then captured an 80-59 victory over the Bengals in the Jan. 29 Corey Gym rematch.
Cortland had been undefeated this season at Corey Gymnasium until last week, and home court losses to Oneonta and Geneseo kept the Red Dragons from securing the second seed.
Four Cortland players average in double figures, led by point guard Brittany Cohen’s 15.3 points per game. The junior also averages six assists per game and leads the Red Dragons in 3-point shots made with 155.
The daughter of former Syracuse University guard Dr. Hal Cohen, she starred at Jamesville-DeWitt High School before leading Onondaga Community College to the national title game a year ago. Cohen also Cortland ties in her family tree.
Grandfather Stan Cohen, who has been part of the SUNY Potsdam men’s basketball program for over 35 years and still serves as an assistant on the Bears’ staff, was a former basketball whiz at Cortland High. He went on to play basketball at Hobart College in Geneva, where he was co-captain of the 1955-56 Statesmen’s squad that finished with the best winning percentage of any team in school history.
Cortland guard Molly Byrne, one of five transfers from OCC who have bolstered the Red Dragons this season, averages 13.1 points per game. Senior forward Jennifer Patten scores 12 points and grabs five rebounds per game, while junior forward Micki Volpini averages 11.9 points per game.
What Cortland has missed in recent games is the offensive lift senior Jen Polan provides off the bench, the guard averaging 9.8 points per game before fracturing her wrist earlier this month.
Featured attractions for Buffalo State are sophomore guard Staci McElroy (15.3 points per game) and junior guard Barb Kiliszek (14.0).
Cortland Men on the Road
After closing the regular season winning four of their final seven outings, SUNY Cortland men are seventh seeded heading into tonight’s 7 p.m. quarterfinal round game at second-seed Buffalo State.
Of course the Bengals (18-5) – starting with a 70-68 escape at Cortland back on Jan. 29 — finished the season with eight straight wins.
Buffalo State has enjoying having former Tompkins Cortland Community College guard Chris Cartwright around, too, the Binghamton native the Bengals’ second leading scorer at 17 points per game. Jake Simmons is the leading scorer for the explosive Bengals, averaging 19 per contest.
Coach Tom Spanbauer’s Red Dragons (10-14) have no seniors on their roster, dependent upon freshmen and sophomores for the most part.
Sophomore point guard Jesse Winter averages 15.6 points per game and tops the Red Dragons with 105 assists. Sophomore guard Jeremy Smith averages 14.9 points per game, while freshman center Kevin McMahon (who missed a chunk of games in the middle of the season with a shoulder injury) scores 10.4 points and grabs 6.2 rebounds per outing.
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