December 1, 2010
Bombers fall, Dragons perfect
How do you turn the basketball over 28 times, get out-rebounded and still win handily?
The SUNY Cortland women’s basketball team displayed how that nifty trick can be accomplished on Tuesday evening while staying undefeated with a 67-55 non-conference victory over visiting Ithaca College.
Shooting well from both the floor and the free throw line were key components to overcoming those other woes, as well as an intense man-to-man defensive effort that held the visitors to a lone basket over a decisive 10-minute first half stretch when Cortland surged ahead to stay.
Making their season debut at Corey Gymnasium, the Red Dragons shot 48 percent from the floor for the game including a respectable 8-for-18 from beyond the 3-point arc. They also made their first 10 free throws en route to showing off some 19-of-23 accuracy from the stripe.
Tack on 23 Ithaca turnovers and Cortland did enough good things to bring an unblemished 4-0 record into the start of SUNY Athletic Conference play this weekend.
Junior point guard Brittany Cohen overcame a bloody gash in her chin suffered in the opening minutes on a drive to the basket, causing her to miss most of the opening eight minutes, and led a balanced Cortland offense with 16 points and a handful of assists.
Just think how lopsided these proceeding might have been if Cortland had not turned the ball over, had not been out-rebounded by a 35-32 margin.
“When you shooting 48 percent you can’t turn the ball over that many times because we need to get shots every possession. Today was definitely sloppy,” admitted Cortland coach Jeannette Mosher, whose team led 60-38 with just under seven minutes to play before Ithaca (2-3) rallied to keep things relatively interesting down the stretch.
“I think we did a little better job of rebounding in the second half, keeping them off the boards a bit,” Mosher added. “Those two things are going to to be huge for us, rebounding and taking care of the basketball, because we have some weapons. We just have to make sure we get quality shots and the same number of shots (as our opponents).”
THIS IS A CORTLAND team that finished 25-4 a year ago, winning a conference title and playing in the NCAA Division III tournament. This is also a team that has to replaced the school’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, as Jessica Laing graduated after four stellar seasons.
With newcomer Cohen running the show — the daughter of former Syracuse guard Hal Cohen among four new transfers off an Onondaga Community College team that finished second in the nation last year — Cortland displayed the diversity it will need while knocking off the Bombers.
Junior newcomer Molly Byrne scored 14 points while making six of her seven shots including a couple of 3-pointers. Senior forward Jennifer Patten had 10 points and seven boards and junior Micki Volpini scored all nine of her points as Cortland was building a 34-20 lead by halftime.
Senior guard Jen Polan came off the bench to provide an eight-point spark including a couple of treys, while center Megan Maycumber — the third former OCCer in the starting line-up — had six points, eight rebounds, four steals and a couple of blocked shots.
Cohen and Byrne did their best work in the second half, when they scored 14 and 11 points respectively. When Maycumber converted a lay-up off an inbounds play, Cortland had its 60-38 lead with 6:54 left to play. That would be the last Red Dragon basket of the game, however, the final seven Cortland points coming from the free throw line.
Ithaca got as close as 10 points in the late going.
“We’re getting use to each other,” said Volpini, the lone starter back from a year ago. “We’re really starting to mesh with the games now and all the practices, and the quick pace of the season is coming up.”
ITHACA LED 5-2 early before going through that 10-minute period where a lay-up by Riley Dunn was the lone Bombers basket. “We were getting the looks we wanted, we just didn’t finish,” said Ithaca coach Dan Raymond, a Cortland grad who also coached the Red Dragons in the past.
Take away the 6-for-6 shooting performance off the bench by Jennifer Escobido, the the rest of the Bombers made just 15-of-56 shots. Escobido had 13 points and Devin Shea 11 points and 10 rebounds for Ithaca.
Losing Elissa Klie to an ankle injury with 4:21 left in the first half didn’t help Ithaca, either. “It’s not only the basketball thing, but she’s a leader, too,” said Coach Raymond of the senior forward who had 14 points in a 65-41 win over Potsdam this past Sunday.
Cortland has not been particularly turnover-prone in its previous three victories this season.
“We had four days off for Thanksgiving and then we had just two days back, and I think it’s more of that because we haven’t turned the ball over like that,” said Mosher. “I’m hoping that’s what it is, because we haven’t seen that in the three previous games. I think our guards are better than that and we just played sloppy tonight.”
“We haven’t had a game like that turnover-wise, but a win is a win. It wasn’t pretty though,” summed up Newfield native Volpini. “We know what we have to work on tomorrow in practice. And we have Fredonia and Buffalo State this weekend, tough teams. We don’t always play our best out there, so we’re going to have to cut down our turnovers for sure.”
Cortland is at Buffalo State Friday night and Fredonia Saturday afternoon.
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