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March 3, 2008

 

Brockport barrage dumps Dragons

By ALAN BUTLER
Sports Editor

BROCKPORT — Almost as if someone flicked a magical switch, suddenly the Brockport Lady Eagles could do no wrong.
To the chagrin of a SUNY Cortland women’s basketball squad on the verge of repeating as conference playoff champions, the hosts of Saturday afternoon’s title game unleashed a barrage of second half shot making that was mind boggling.
Top-seed Brockport erased a 14-point deficit with a 54-point second half splurge, making 19 of 28 shots attempted including seven swished 3-pointers. That earned the Eagles a lopsided 75-59 victory, a SUNY Athletic Conference championship and an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III tournament. It also produced a lot of stunned looks from Cortland folks on hand at Tuttle North Gymnasium.
“I never doubted,” said Brockport coach Michele Carron of the way her 24-4 squad suddenly came to life behind senior guards Ashley Broadhurst and Courtney Hines. “Basketball is a game of streaks and I figured our shots would come.”
Did they ever!
Hines had 20 of her game high 24 points in the second half, including four high-arcing treys. She finished with seven of Brockport’s 20 assists, too.
Broadhurst finished with 23 points, six assists and the most valuable player trophy. She made four 3-pointers and displayed a soft shooting touch throughout while controlling the game. Junior forward Brenlyn Campbell added 16 points and Kiomi Matthews 13 rebounds battling inside against the Red Dragons.
“They shot absolutely lights out,” said Cortland head coach Jeannette Yeoman, adding she knew the Lady Eagles would improve on a shaky 25 percent first half performance. Cortland never trailed while building a 29-21 advantage over those opening 20 minutes.
“They are so quick that you have to try to contain them. When you do that they don’t need much room for their shots and they hit shots the entire second half,” Yeoman added. Brockport’s second half shooting percentage was a sizzling 69 percent.
Things had been going so well for the Red Dragons, including when forward Sara Cavanaugh opened the second half scoring inside on the first possession. When guard Maggie Byrne and forward Jessica Laing hit back-to-back 3-pointers, the Red Dragons were ahead 37-23. Brockport called for a timeout in serious trouble a mere 1:34 into the half.
Starting with a Broadhurst 3-pointer seconds later, nothing else went right for the Red Dragons the rest of the day. Or as Cavanaugh, the school all-time scoring leader and lone senior on this 22-6 Red Dragon squad, said of the nightmarish conclusion: “It wasn’t fun.”
Cavanaugh and her teammates will see this season continue. Though they failed to get an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament, the Red Dragons will compete in ECAC Upstate tournament play this week against an opponent to be determined later today.
SUNYAC SCORING leader Laing led Cortland with 18 points and 14 rebounds, guard Kristin Ciccone tossed in 12 points, Cavanaugh 11 points and forward Ali Canale had a steady six-point, six-rebound performance in this loss.
Laing and Canale would join the Brockport trio of MVP Broadhurst, Hines and Campbell on the all-tournament team — along with New Paltz forward Artie Williams.
But the Red Dragons could never cool off the Eagles over the final 18 minutes. “We were playing really well, and then it seemed like they hit every shot in the second half,” said Cavanaugh.
Cortland scored the game’s opening six points on back-to-back Ciccone baskets and a Laing low post move. When Cavanaugh converted a three-point play and Laing rattled home a 3-pointer, the Red Dragons lead was 21-10.
Even when Brockport pulled to within 25-20, four straight free throws by freshman Jennifer Patten seemed to thwart that comeback. And when Cortland improved on its halftime lead with a strong second half start, a second consecutive title was there for the taking.
“I think it was the defense, really,” said Brockport’s Carron of the sudden turnaround, as Cortland shot just 31 percent in the second half and finished with 20 turnovers for the game. “We did a better job on them defensively in the second half and that got the offense going.”
Four timeouts called by Coach Yeoman did now keep the Eagles from soaring and soaring, turning that 37-23 deficit into a 59-45 lead over a span of 11 minutes.
Hines final trey made it 69-49 with just over two minutes to play, though Cortland did turn four consecutive Brockport turnovers into eight unanswered points in a span of 19 seconds — six scored by Ciccone to go along with a Byrne bank shot — to get Cortland with 12 points with 12 with 1:18 left.
But there would be no miracle finish.
There was a final word of consolation from Brockport’s Carron, whose team had rallied for an 84-76 win over Cortland back on Feb. 5 that helped Lady Eagles earn the home court Final Four edge.
“Cortland is a good team, a well-coached team. The thing I like about them is they’re a good team that plays hard,“ said Carron. “And they’re a class act, from the coaches on down to every player.“
PLATTSBURGH MEN captured a third straight conference title on Saturday, the top seeds beating Oswego 89-75 in the SUNYAC title game in Plattsburgh.
Guard Anthony Williams had 30 points and was named the tournament MVP for the Cardinals, while Travis Gorham added 19 points and 13 rebounds. Guard Kyle Reuter led Oswego with 21 points.