November 28, 2012
Miscues too costly for Cortland women
One glaring statistic pretty much summed up the woes SUNY Cortland women experienced in this home opener.
While dropping a 53-33 decision to visiting Ithaca College in Tuesday night’s non-conference contest, the Red Dragons were guilty of turning the basketball over 34 times before a large Corey Gymnasium gathering on hand to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX legislation that opened the door for women’s sports.
“We had more turnovers than points. That’s the entire story,” said Cortland coach Jeannette Mosher, her team now heading into SUNY Athletic Conference play this weekend with a 2-2 overall record. “You can’t beat anybody doing that. You can’t be in the game doing that.”
While Cortland had no one score in double figures, guard Kathryn Campbell had 15 points and Jenn Escobido finished with 11 points as the Bombers — who had not played since winning the Skidmore Invitational back on Nov. 16-17 — improved to 3-0.
Cortland never led, falling behind 6-0 over the opening two and a half minutes. The Red Dragons first four possessions featured three turnovers and a missed attempt with the shot clock running down. The Red Dragons battled back to get to within 17-15 thanks to a run of five straight points from junior forward Grace Williamson, who converted a three-point play off an assist from freshman guard Shannon White before scoring down low.
That’s when Ithaca closed the first half out on an 11-2 run, helped out by seven Red Dragon turnovers that hiked their halftime total to 18. The Bombers were 28-17 leaders at the break despite making just one of 13 shots from 3-point range over those opening 20 minutes.
The lead dipped under double digits just once the rest of the way. Starting sophomore guards Brittany Rando and Lindsey Minor — who were held scoreless in the opening half — hit back-to-back 3-pointers between a pair of IC free throws to get Cortland within 32-25. That caused IC coach Dan Raymond to call a time-out with 14:50 left to play.
The Bombers went on a 16-2 run after that chat, with Escobido rattling in a shot from the side before Campbell made a challenged 3-pointer from the top of the key to get that decisive spurt under way.
“In the second half the offense was awful, brutal,” said Coach Raymond of his side, as Ithaca shot just 30 percent from the floor for the game against Cortland’s scrappy defensive effort. Forcing Cortland into all those ball-handling miscues made up for that wayward aim.
“I think what it really was, it’s our size and we’re pretty physical,” said Raymond, a past Cortland head coach, of how his defense stymied the Red Dragons. “I think that’s the thing. We pressured the ball and they didn’t handle it very well.”
Though junior guard Mary Kate Tierney had an off-shooting night, she finished with seven points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals to steady the visitors. Devin Shea scored eight inside points for the Bombers.
Ithaca grabbed 17 offensive rebounds as a team, too, and those second chance opportunities and Cortland’s turnover troubles were why Ithaca got off 62 shots compared to just 36 for Cortland.
“I think we get in a panic mode out there,” said Cortland’s Mosher. “We kind of panic or freak out and then we just turn the ball over and we don’t give ourselves shot opportunities. We shot the ball better than they did, but we gave them way more shots.”
Cortland shot 36 percent from the floor, as Tashia Morris scored eight points off the bench and Williamson finished with seven points to lead Cortland scorers. Point guard Minor had five points, five rebounds, four steals and a pair of assists.
“In the first half we were only down four at one point and we had already turned the ball over 12 times. That couldn’t continue, but unfortunately that is what happened,” said Mosher. “But we’ll get better. We just have to be tougher and take better care of the basketball and give ourselves a chance.”
Getting Megan Touhey back in the lineup will help, too — the junior missing her third straight game since suffering a concussion in a season-opening win at Elmira College. She is the top returning scorer back from last year and will be involved in practice today.
“We knew we’d have some growing pains, but we have to really focus on taking better care of the basketball and get a couple of wins this weekend to open up conference play,” said Mosher, Cortland to host Potsdam at 6 p.m. Friday and Plattsburgh at 2 p.m. Saturday in SUNY Athletic Conference contests.
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