March 09, 2009


Scranton rally dumps Dragons

SCRANTON, Pa. – This bid to be a “Sweet 16” basketball participant in the NCAA Division III tournament had a sour ending for SUNY Cortland women on Saturday night.
The Red Dragons held a halftime lead and were up by four points early in the second stanza before regional host Scranton recovered to pull out a 51-45 second round victory on their Long Center home floor.
Megan Kopecki scored 13 of her game-high 19 points in the second half as the Royals (25-4) advanced to face York College from Pennsylvania in the “Sweet 16” round of play this coming Friday at a site still to be determined.
Sophomore forward Jennifer Patten, junior forward Jessica Laing and freshman guard Micki Volpini all scored 10 points for the Red Dragons (24-5), who were making their fourth NCAA appearance in the past six seasons for Coach Jeannette Mosher.
Senior forward Ali Canale chipped in with eight points in her final collegiate game as a Red Dragon. Canale started all 116 of Cortland’s games during her collegiate career, a new school record.
Scranton’s Kopecki also finished with five rebounds, had four assists and came up with three steals for the hosts. Ryan Mooney added 12 points, six rebounds and four assists and Molly Klusek scored six points and blocked six shots.
Patten grabbed 11 rebounds and Laing 10 for the Red Dragons, who were out-rebounded 50-35 and struggled shooting throughout the entire evening. The SUNY Athletic Conference regular season champions made only 24 percent of their field goals, including 18 percent (5-of-28) in the second half. The Red Dragons connected on only 3-of-24 shots from beyond the 3-point arc in the contest.
Scranton shooters were not much better in this defensive struggle, the Royals limited to 27 percent from the floor (15-of-56). The Lady Royals made only 4-of-19 shots from 3-point range despite making their first two long distance attempts in the opening 1:01.
Cortland fell behind 8-1 to start the game and, despite tying the game at 8-8, trailed 19-12 after a Courtney Rosell jumper with 10:10 left in the half. Canale hit a jumper with 9:51 left to cut the score to 19-14, and neither team scored again for more than four minutes until two Rosell foul shots put Scranton up 21-14.
Cortland made its best run of the game over the next three minutes, outscoring the hosts 8-0 to take a 24-21 lead with 2:49 left. Volpini scored the first six points of that stretch with a three-point play and a 3-point jumper, followed by two Laing foul shots and a Maggie Byrne layup.
The Red Dragons led 25-23 at halftime and took a four-point lead on Laing’s layup with 19:20 left. Cortland grabbed its final lead of the game at 30-28 on a Patten three-point play with 17:43 remaining, and Kopecki’s trey with 15:46 left gave Scranton a 31-30 edge.
The game stayed tight the rest of the way, despite the fact that Scranton never relinquished the lead. Patten sank a free throw with 5:36 left to keep Cortland within 40-37, but Sarah Gage hit a layup and Mooney made two foul shots and the hosts led 44-37 with 3:44 left. Down seven after a Kopecki layup at the 1:51 mark, Cortland scored the next three points and trailed 46-42 with 48 seconds on the clock.
The Red Dragons fouled with 41 seconds left and Kopecki hit two foul shots. Patten got a friendly bounce for Cortland’s lone three-point jumper of the second half to keep the Red Dragons within 48-45 with 29 seconds left, but Scranton scored the final points on two Mooney foul shots with 25 seconds left and one Rosell free throw at the 13-second mark.
Cortland’s 24 wins this season mark the Red Dragons’ fourth straight year with at least 23 victories and eighth time in 11 years.