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November 16, 2011

 

Cortland women cruise in debut

BasketballBob Ellis/staff photographer
Molly Byrne (5) and Brittney Cohen (10) of SUNY Cortland put double-team pressure on Elmira’s Maria Thannhauser (24) as she attempts to bring the ball upcourt Tuesday at Corey Gym. Byrne had 13 points and Cohen 11 in a 79-49 Red Dragons romp.

By ALAN BUTLER
Sports Editor

Six and a half minutes into this season opener and trailing by a point, SUNY Cortland women’s basketball coach Jeannette Mosher called for a time-out to talk things over.
The Red Dragons responded to that respite by reeling off seven straight points and were never in much danger from that point on while securing a comfortable 79-49 victory over visiting Elmira College on Tuesday night at Corey Gymnasium.
Emerging from that early chat, Molly Byrne immediately scored off a backdoor cut as her fellow senior guard Brittany Cohen delivered one of her 11 assists. Then some defensive pressure led to an Elmira turnover and a Cohen lay-up, followed by freshman Brittany Rando swishing a corner 3-pointer. That outburst caused Elmira to call a time-out of its own, though that did not succeed in slowing the Red Dragons down.
“At that point our defense hadn’t really done anything, but sometimes it’s just a matter of wearing down a team,” said Coach Mosher of another crucial component that helped turn back a Soaring Eagles team that won just five times a year ago. “Sometimes it’s just wearing down a team, if you just give it five, 10 or 15 minutes, and that’s exactly what happened. We were able to create some things with our defense.”
From being down 9-8, Cortland closed out the first half out-scoring the Soaring Eagles 34-11. Connecting eight times from beyond the 3-point arc — including Rando making all three of her shots from long range — contributed to building a 42-20 halftime lead.
And to open the second half, Byrne missed a free throw that would have completed a four-point play after she was fouled hitting a trey on the opening possession. Byrne made another 3-pointer moments later after center Megan Maycumber blocked at Elmira shot, guard Ally Biordi finished off a fast break after a Cohen steal and the Cortland lead was that quickly up to 30 points.
When things concluded a dozen different Dragons contributed to a pretty balanced scoring ledger, Byrne’s 13 points on some 5-for-7 shooting leading the way. Cohen had 11 points to match her assist total, while Rando also finished in double figures with 10 points.
“Pretty good first game,” summed up Coach Mosher, Cortland with high expectations with four starters back from last year’s 19-7 squad that is now supported by a strong class of freshmen recruits. “We got everybody in, and you see where we’re going to have a strong second unit, so that was good. It was kid of what we’ve been seeing.”
Rando led the way for the rookies, with freshman guard Lindsey Minor and frosh center Brooke DeMarco both with nine points making their Cortland debut. Minor had five steals and Rando four to spark the defense, the Red Dragons with 19 steals on the night while forcing Elmira into 23 turnovers.
The defense also held Elmira to just 29 percent shooting for the game. Taking away top scorers Jessica Zoltowski (17 points) and Darcy James (13), the rest of the Soaring Eagles were just 4-for-24 from the floor.
With Cohen running the show, Cortland had assists on 24 of its 30 baskets. And senior starting guard Ally Biordi, in the starting lineup after red-shirting last season with an injury, had seven points, six rebounds, two assists and no turnovers in an encouraging 17 minutes.
“It felt really good, I’m excited about it,” said Biordi of her return to the court. “I still have a lot of work to do because my quad’s not that strong yet, but I’ve been rehabbing every day.”
Biordi gave a thumb’s up to Cortland’s opening romp, too.
“I think we did really well. Our rookies did really well, I’m proud of them. I think we’ll have a good season.”
The season will continue this weekend in the Dickinson College Days Inn Tipoff Tournament in Pennsylvania, with Cortland to face Rowan in Saturday’s 8 p.m. first round game. Dickinson and RIT are the other teams in the field, with the consolation and title games to be played Sunday afternoon.“I think we have to focus on all the little things that you need to work on and just be more consistent at that,” said Coach Mosher. “And that’s what we’re trying to do, keep it simple and give ourselves a chance with all the little things. That’s how you go from good to great, doing all the little things.”

 

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