March 8, 2008


Nice prize for Cavanaugh, Dragons

ONEONTA — Sure senior Sara Cavanaugh would have preferred ending her remarkable basketball career at SUNY Cortland in the NCAA Division III tournament.
Still, this was a pretty nice consolation prize for the school’s all-time scoring leader.
Cavanaugh scored 18 points to lead the top seeded Red Dragons to a 65-53 victory over second seed and Final Four host Oneonta in Sunday afternoon’s ECAC Upstate New York tournament title game. The six-foot forward also grabbed four rebounds, passed out three assists and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player as Cortland finished with a 24-6 record.
While Cavanaugh — the lone senior on Coach Jeannette Yeoman’s roster — led this season finale and scored 35 points in two weekend victories, forward Ali Canale also had a Final Four to remember for the Red Dragons.
After scoring a season-high 15 points in Saturday night’s 80-73 semifinal victory over fourth seed Oswego, the junior from Oswego matched that 15-point effort in the finals against Oneonta. Canale also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds as Cortland captured its first ever ECAC post-season crown.
To go along with the offensive production provided by Cavanaugh and Canale, junior guard Maggie Byrne tossed in 10 points and dished out six assists against Oneonta. Sophomore forward Jessica Laing finished with nine points and grabbed seven caroms for the victors.
Oneonta (20-9) lost to Cortland for the fourth time this season, the most recent in the SUNY Athletic Conference playoff semifinals. Sara Chrystie led the hosts 12 points, Shannon Weir had 10 points and five rebounds and Kerri Swails came off the bench to score 10 points.
In this weekend Final Four, where all four participants were SUNY Athletic Conference cohorts, Oneonta reached the finals with a 53-45 win over Potsdam in Saturday’s other semifinal contest.
In the title game at Dewar Arena, Cortland jumped out to an 8-0 lead including opening 3-pointers fired in by Byrne and Cavanaugh before Oneonta battled back to take a 14-12 lead just past the midpoint of the first half. The visiting Red Dragons then went on a 16-4 run to seize a 28-18 lead with 54 seconds left in the opening 20 minutes.
Oneonta closed to within 28-22 at intermission and got to within 32-27 early in the second half, but Cortland steadily pulled away to build a 56-35 lead with 9:17 remaining. The closest Oneonta got the rest of the way was to within 61-50 with 3:19 left.
Cortland 80, Owego 73: The Red Dragons needed a second half rally to knock off the upset-minded Lakers (14-12) in Saturday’s semifinal.
Cortland trailed 20-13 early but rallied to take a 38-36 lead at halftime. The game, which featured 12 ties and multiple lead changes, remained tight throughout the second half.
The score was tied for the final time at 64-64 with 5:24 left, and Cortland held a 69-68 lead with less than four minutes remaining. Canale hit a 3-pointer to give the Red Dragons a 72-68 lead and Laing’s trey with 1:36 left put Cortland up 75-71.
After the Lakers pulled to within 75-73 on a pair of free throws with 51 seconds remaining, the Red Dragons iced the game by making 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch.
Laing scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for her fifth straight “double-double.” Cavanaugh also scored 17 points and pulled down six rebounds and blocked three shots.
Canale added 5 points, six rebounds and three assists and Byrne chipped in chipped in with 15 points and seven assists.
Rachel Kohrs led the Lakers with 17 points off the bench, including 5-of-8 three-pointers. Guard Alaina Hannahs added 12 points, guard Sam Driscoll scored 11 points and forward Sarah Lombard had nine points and 10 rebounds.
BROCKPORT WOMEN, who defeated Cortland in the SUNYAC playoff finals to advance into the NCAA Division III tournament, lost in the second round to William Smith in Geneva 78-73 Sunday.
Senior guard and SUNYAC Player of the Year Ashley Broadhurst scored 30 points and finished her career as the third time leading scorer at Brockport with 1,697 points. Her 511 assists is a school best.
Brenlyn Campbell added 21 points for Brockport, which winds up 25-5. William Smith  (25-3), which won at Cortland during the regular season, was led by guard Marisa Vespa’s 25 points and eight assists.