The men's and women's basketball teams both made the long weekend trip to play Potsdam and Plattsburgh this weekend. The women used stellar defense to come away with two wins, while the men's team split their weekend games.
The women's team improved their record to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the SUNYAC after the two wins last weekend. Their only conference loss came at the hands of defending SUNYAC champion Oswego on Nov. 28.
Against Potsdam, the Lady Knights came out strong in the first half, opening up a 13-point lead that dwindled to nine by halftime. But Potsdam made a run to cut the lead to two with seven minutes left in the game. However, with three minutes to go Geneseo sunk seven free throws to keep the game out of reach, eventually winning 62-52.
Geneseo used a very balanced offensive attack, led by junior Annie Verdino who scored 17 points. Junior Merrissa Wilson chipped in with 12 points, and senior Katy Irving and sophomore Bridget Riley each added ten points.
Coach Kris Ruffo was pleased with the way her team handled themselves down the stretch. "This team last year may have panicked," she said. "But we took care of the ball. We also made 28 free throws, and that was the real difference in the game."
The next day against Plattsburgh, the Lady Knights led throughout. Plattsburgh cut the lead to five at one point in the second half, but Geneseo ended the game on a 7-2 run to close out the game, winning 55-46. Verdino once again led the team with 15 points. Irving added thirteen points including three three-pointers.
Ruffo applauded her team's defensive efforts in both games. "Our goal was to hold both teams to 50 points and collectively we have done that." The Lady Knights were able to pack it in against both teams, and sat back in a 2-3 zone due to their opponents' poor shooting efforts.
The Lady Knights got their longest road trip of the year out of the way, but then faced the challenge of playing two teams that Ruffo described as "young and scrappy."
On Tuesday, the women faced off against Alfred, picking up a 72-55 victory over the Saxons. Verdino lead four Knights in double figures, with 24 points on 9-13 shooting along with 12 rebounds. Riley pitched in with 15, while Irving and junior Amanda Haney each added 10 points. They will bring their 4-2 record to St. John Fisher on Friday for a 6 p.m. game.
The men (3-2, 2-1) squeaked out a 67-64 win against Potsdam on Friday, buoyed by good free throw shooting in the final minutes. The game went back and forth, with Potsdam taking a two-point lead at halftime. With 4:20 to go in the game, Potsdam extended its lead to four, before an 8-1 Knights run gave Geneseo a lead they would not relinquish.
Geneseo kept their clutch free throw shooting going by sinking all six of their attempts in the second half. In fact, the Blue Knights shot 87 percent from the line in the second half, which accounted for their last 15 points. Junior Joe Kling scored a game high 18 points, including a perfect 8-8 performance from the free throw line. Sophomore Scott Morton added 16 points, and was also perfect in his six free throw attempts.
Coach Steve Minton was pleased with his team's free throw shooting and pointed out that his starting five combined to go 22-22 at the free throw line. "One stat that is very important is that we want to make more free throws than our opponents attempt. Right now both numbers are at 92."
Against Plattsburgh the Knights appeared to be in control, grabbing a four point halftime lead and opening the second half on with a torrid 14-3 run to take a commanding 41-26 lead with 14:06 left in the game. However, Plattsburgh answered with their own 10-0 run to cut the Knights' lead to five.
The Knights were unable to find their game in the second half as Plattsburgh went on to win 65-59. Junior Tarik Kitson led the team with 13 points and sophomore Jeff Howe added 12 points, but Geneseo was able to produce very little offensively late in the game.
"To get up double digits we played some of the best basketball of the year," Minton said. "But then we went downhill. We made some crucial turnovers at inopportune times." The Knights committed 15 turnovers in the game.
In Tuesday's game against Alfred, Minton wanted his team to control the boards and test Alfred's 6-6 center Dillon Stein and try to get him into foul trouble.
Geneseo succeeded at both in their 67-50 victory, outrebounding Alfred 33-32 and holding Stein to just five points in 20 minutes of play, as he picked up four fouls and spent much of the game on the bench.
Morton led the way for Geneseo, with 16 points on 6-9 shooting. Senior Steve McDonnell, who had been limited in his first three games back from injury, had a season-high 15 on five of six shooting, including three of four from beyond the arc.
"We are still trying to learn a lot about one another," Minton said about his team, which features many returning players. "The experience is still in the works, but we are getting better every game."
The Alfred win bumped the men to 4-2 on the season, a mark they will look to improve on Friday against St. John Fisher at 8 p.m.