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February 25, 2009

 

Cortland women win big

Cortland

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland’s Jessica Laing (11) drives past Geneseo’s Bridget Riley (left) and Bri Dunton (12) in the first half of last night’s SUNYAC playoff game. Laing had 15 points as Red Dragons rolled to 72-41 victory.

By ALAN BUTLER
Sports Editor

In this basketball quest for a conference championship, SUNY Cortland women are off and running.
The top-seeded Red Dragons had their transition game clicking, with an aggressive defense doing its part to help create a lot of those scoring chances, while handling Geneseo with relative 72-41 ease to get post-season play underway Tuesday night.
Behind a balanced scoring attack that featured 15 points from junior forward Jessica Laing and 14 points from sophomore forward Jennifer Patten, the Red Dragons earned the right to be Final Four hosts when the SUNY Athletic Conference playoffs resume with semifinal games Friday night back on this Corey Gymnasium floor.
Cortland (23-3) will face seventh seed Potsdam (16-10), upset winners over second seed host New Paltz 62-61 last night, at 8 p.m. in the second semifinal game on Friday. Fourth seed Brockport (17-9) takes on third seed Oneonta (20-5) ) in the 6 p.m. opener. The final will be Saturday at 4 p.m.
In other quarterfinal round results last evening, Oneonta topped Plattsburgh 46-39 and defending champion Brockport dumped Oswego 66-43.
Those Final Four teams will provide a stiffer test for the Red Dragons. Geneseo, a loser by 28 points to Cortland earlier this season, finished 8-18 and never put too much of a scare into the Red Dragons. Of course, Cortland had plenty to do with that.
A statistical indication of how well Cortland played were the 20 assists compiled on the 29 baskets the Red Dragons made. Things turned lopsided when the hosts went on a 19-1 first half scoring binge, the eighth-seeded Blue Knights within 13-10 before that surge.
A scrambling defense effort that forced the visitors into 18 turnovers, that held the Blue Knights to just 29 percent shooting from the floor, certainly helped to ignite a bunch of easy Cortland baskets.
“We’re back, we’re definitely back,” said senior guard Kristin Ciccone, who contributed four steals to this defensive effort that stifled the Blue Knights. “We had struggled in a couple of games there at the end, on the road, but when we move our feet, when we communicate, then we’re on our game. To hold them under 50 points is pretty good.”
“When we’re on our toes and moving our arms, that can create some steals and are are able to push the ball ahead. It creates some offense for us,” added Cortland coach Jeannette Mosher of this defensive effort.
CORTLAND HAD PLENTY of offense, too, shooting 54 percent from the floor and making eight shots from 3-point range. Ah, the comforts of home. Or as Ciccone said after expounding on the importance of earning the home court advantage for the playoffs: “We play well here.”
Ciccone and Jennifer Polan added nine points apiece to the Cortland cause, sophomore guard Polan hitting three times from 3-point range. Senior forward Ali Canale added seven points and five assists and knocked down a rare trey of her own in the waning moments of the second half to the delight of the home folks. Freshman guard Allyson Biordi came off the bench to hit a couple of treys, too.
Patten did most of her damage early, often the benefit of crisp Cortland passing with Ciccone usually pulling the trigger. Laing, the SUNYAC scoring leader, did her best scoring in the second half though her game-long work off the backboards helped the Red Dragons run and run and run. Laing finished with nine rebounds.
“Teams are going to double team her, obviously, so she has to let the game come to her. She did a good job settling down,” said Coach Mosher of Laing, who is closing in on the school career scoring record. With 1,530 career points, Laing is 20 points shy of the school record Sara Cavanaugh — who was in attendance last night — set a year ago.
Laing had 11 of her 15 points after intermission, though all seven Red Dragons used in the opening half scored points as Geneseo fell behind 37-20.
Geneseo senior Tracy Wangelin did hit a couple of early 3-pointers and the Blue Knights were within 13-0 when Cortland went on its decisive run, started with a couple of Patten baskets and a Polan trey from the left wing.
After a Geneseo free throw, the next 12 points came from Cortland. Biordi swished a trey and Laing finished off a drive. Laing’s long outlet pass after a snatching a rebound created a three-point play from Ciccone on a breakaway, with Ciccone moments later turning a Geneseo bobble into another fast break basket.
WHEN PATTEN’S backdoor cut was rewarded by a Canale feed for a layup, the Red Dragons lead was 32-11 with 4:40 on the clock and Geneseo coach Scott Hemer called for his fourth timeout of the half in a futile attempt to slow down the Red Dragons.
The Black Knights never put much of a dent into that double digit deficit the rest of the way.
The visitors did have some good moments, and Coach Hemer was able to give late game curtain calls to his three senior cogs late in the proceedings. In order, in removed point guard Amanda Bihr (seven points, three assists), forward Wangelin (10 points and five assists) and center Bridget Riley (12 points, 12 rebounds) from the game for an appreciative hug as their careers ended.
Cortland certainly hopes to keep on playing, hopes for some Final Four fun this weekend. And the Red Dragons could get a boost, too, if senior guard Maggie Byrne is ready to return from a broken wrist that has kept her sidelined in the second semester.
“She’s going to practice tomorrow, so we’ll see,” said Coach Mosher of the possible return of Byrne.

Cortland 72, Geneseo 41
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Geneseo (8-18) 41: Bihr 2-10 2-2 7, Dunton 3-7 0-0 8, Scordino 0-2 0-0 0, Wangelin 4-11 0-0 10, Riley 6-11 0-0 12, Licatese 0-1 0-0 0, Niebel 0-1 0-0 0, Charbonneau 1-5 0-0 3, Jaffie 0-3 1-2 1, Loughlin 0-3 0-0 0. Team totals: 16-54 3-4 41
Cortland (23-3) 72: Laing 6-10 1-1 15, Polan 3-7 0-0 9, Patten 7-10 0-1 14, Ciccone 4-6 1-3 9, Canale 3-6 0-0 7, Biordi 2-7 0-0 6, S. Lazarus 0-0 0-0 0, Lustig 1-1 4-4 6, Volpini 2-4 0-0 4, T. Lazarus 0-2 0-0 0, Bruns 0-0 0-0 0. Team totals: 29-54 6-9 72
By periods:
SUNY Geneseo 20 21 — 41
SUNY Cortland 37 35 — 72
3-point goals: Geneseo (6-28)- Bihr 1-5, Dunton 2-6, Scordino 0-1, Wangelin 2-6, Licatese 0-1, Niebel 0-1, Charbonneau 1-5, Jaffie 0-3. Cortland (8-20)- Laing 2-4, Polan 3-6, Patten 0-1, Canale 1-1, Biordi 2-7, T. Lazarus 0-1
Rebounds: Cortland 33 (Laing 9), Geneseo 32 (Riley 12). Assists: Cortland 20 (Canale 5, Ciccone 4), Geneseo 12 (Wangelin 5). Team fouls: Cortland 11, Geneseo 9
Officials: Reed, Schmidt, Smith