The Geneseo men's basketball team was optimistic this weekend, with a three-game winning streak under their belts and a steady climb toward the top of the SUNYAC West division standings in progress. That streak came to an end on Friday, when they were defeated by SUNYAC contender Oswego, 81-70.
The Knights found themselves struggling from the outset, as a slow start put them in a 14-point hole at the end of the first half, shooting less than 40 percent from the floor.
"We just came out flat," said senior guard Manuel Karam. "You can't let a good team like Oswego get out to a 20-point lead in the first half."
Geneseo came out in the second half with stronger shooting, but continued to struggle from deep, finishing the game with only one three-pointer. Two of the Knight's three leading scorers, junior Scott Morton and senior Tarik Kitson, went a combined 1-for-14 from the floor for the game, and the Lakers were able to hold on to their early lead for the entire game.
On Saturday, however, the Knights came out strong against Morrisville, out-rebounding the Mustangs 36 to 29 and minimizing their mistakes.
"Everyone really played within themselves and we were able to control the game," said Karam.
Morton bounced back from Friday's lackluster effort by putting up 24 points and eight rebounds, while junior Jeff Howe added 13 points and six assists as the Knights cruised to victory, 71-60. Geneseo, now 15-7 overall and 8-5 in the conference, holds the third-place spot in the SUNYAC West division.
The Geneseo women saw the same matchups both Friday and Saturday, but were able to come away with victories in both, the first coming as they defeated Oswego 54-53. Despite foul trouble, the Knights' star forward senior Annie Verdino scored 14 points in just 17 minutes, while sophomore forward Khadija Campbell added a double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
"Our defense is improving every game," said head coach Scott Hemer. "We're really learning to commit to rebounding."
The Knights were indeed committed as they pulled down 14 more rebounds than Oswego, but also committed 28 turnovers compared to 19 for the Lakers. This trend followed the Geneseo women into Saturday against Morrisville.
"We did not put enough value on the possession of the ball," added Hemer, who saw many problems with the Knights' execution, despite their 48-39 victory on Saturday.
The Knights brought themselves to an 11-point halftime lead, but struggled greatly throughout the second half, shooting only 29 percent from the floor. Geneseo was outscored in the second half 23-21, despite facing an 0-17 team.
The Knights' bright spots came in their continued strong rebounding and a spark off of the bench from sophomore guard Kate Jaffie, who added 16 points and was 4-6 from beyond the arc, while the rest of the team went 0-9 on three-point attempts. Jaffie has been a threat off the bench for Geneseo, exhibiting clutch shooting against a heavily-favored Cortland team two weeks ago.
The Blue Knight women now have a strong hold on second place in the SUNYAC West division with an impressive 9-4 conference record, having won nine of their last 10 games. They will end their season with three straight home games, the first on Friday against Fredonia.