February 26, 2010
Red Dragons host to ‘Final Four’ fun
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland senior guard Miranda Lustig (left) and her teammates will be looking for some revenge when they take on Geneseo State in the SUNYAC semifinals at Corey Gym.
Sure it’ s been a while, but Geneseo should not find Cortland’s Corey Gymnasium all that intimidating when the SUNY Athletic Conference women’s basketball playoff Final Four gets underway this evening.
The Blue Knights opened the season by knocking off SUNY Cortland by a 61-52 margin on this same Corey Gym floor back on Dec. 4 — which seems like eons ago.
That should provide plenty of encouragement for Coach Scott Hemer’s Blue Knights, as fourth-seed Geneseo (16-10) takes on top-seed Cortland (23-3) at 9 p.m. tonight in the second of two semifinal contests. The 7 p.m. opener had second-seed Oneonta (17-9) going up against third-seed New Paltz (17-9).
The title game is Saturday at 4 p.m. at Corey Gymnasium, with the winner earning an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III national tournament.
Of course, Cortland did not lose another game in conference play after that early stumble to Geneseo. And in the 2010 calendar year, the Red Dragons have put together an 18-game winning streak to lug into post-season play. Included in that stretch of success was a 56-47 victory at Geneseo.
The top four seeds all captured first round victories on Tuesday, the closest call being Cortland holding off eight-seed Fredonia 69-63. Those victories set the stage for these match-ups.
New Paltz Hawks
Oneonta Red Dragons
l A veteran New Paltz squad comes into the game with a lopsided 67-52 win over Potsdam in the opening round, forcing 30 turnovers and getting a career-high 16 points from senior forward Alexandra McCullough.
Senior guard Maggie Farrell averages 11 points per game and senior guard Nicole Sarcone has collected 129 assists on the season for Coach Jamie Seward’s Hawks. Senior forward Carly Minehan chips in with nine points per game.
New Paltz’ last visit to Corey Gymnasium was one it would rather forget, a lopsided 87-60 loss to Cortland.
l Oneonta erupted for 13 unanswered second half points in pulling away from Buffalo State for a 71-47 victory in the opening round of playoffs as three players scored in double figures, senior guard Rebecca Bucci and sophomore forward Samantha Szkotak with 14 points apiece.
Szkotak leads Oneonta averaging 12.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, while Bucci tosses in nine points per contest and has 112 assists. Senior Sara Chrystie leads the team with 125 assists and Madison Slagle has an 8.3 scoring average for Coach Daphne Thompson.
The Red Dragons were battling for a regular season title when late losses to Cortland (70-60) and to New Paltz (56-43) halted that bid.
Geneseo Blue Knights
Cortland Red Dragons
l Geneseo rolled to a 43-16 halftime lead and coasted to a 65-39 victory over Oswego, as junior forward Brittany Finkle finished with 11 points and junior foward Alyssa Polosky scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Those 10 points and seven boards are just what Polosky averages for the Blue Knights. Sophomore guard Bri Dunton and junior forward Khadija Campbell both average nine points a game for the fourth seeds.
The Blue Knights come into the game riding a four-game winning streak, including that impressive first round romp.
l Senior forward Jessica Laing, who has started every game in her career at Cortland, had 30 points and 12 rebounds in the 69-63 Red Dragons’ escape past Fredonia. This season she became only the 10th place in Division III history to score over 2,000 points and yank down over 1,000 rebounds.
Laing averages 20.5 points and 12.5 rebounds for Coach Jeannette Mosher. Sophomore guard Micki Volpini out of Newfield scores 13.8 per contest and has a team high 74 steals, while sophomore guard Allyson Biordi and senior guard Miranda Lustig are tops in assists with 79 and 70 overall.
The Red Dragons were also the top seeded Final Four hosts a year ago, and were upset by Potsdam 64-59 in the semifinals yet still advanced into the NCAA Division III tournament before losing to Scranton in the second round.
Final Four Coverage
SUNY Cortland’s Internet Readio will cover all three games of the Final Four at Corey Gymnasium, Bobby Comstock the play-by-play voice.
Coverage starts tonight at 5:15 p.m. with “Tourney Talk.” That roundtable look at the playoffs fllowed by the Oneonta-New Paltz game. Saturday’s “Tourney Talk Update” will begin coverage of the championship game at 3:30 p.m.
Both broadcasts can be found on-line at www.cortlandreddragons.com/radio.
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