Men's basketball advances to SUNYAC semis

In the opening round of the SUNYAC basketball playoffs on Tuesday, both the men's and women's teams went on the road to face Red Dragons, with the men knocking off fourth-seeded Cortland and the women losing a seesaw battle to Oneonta.

The men's team traveled to Cortland riding a four-game winning streak, and came away with a 63-60 victory.

The Knights (seeded fifth in the tournament) built a 60-51 lead with 3:14 remaining in the game, but Cortland stormed back with three treys, requiring senior guard Joe Kling to seal the win by going 1-for-2 from the free throw line.

The Red Dragons' offense was held in check by Geneseo's 1-3-1 zone for most of the night, as Cortland starters combined to score just 16 points.

Junior forward Jeff Howe led all scorers with 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting, and helped the Knights hold Cortland's top scorer Mike Lewis to no field goals.

"Jeff played very well offensively," said coach Steve Minton. "I thought he did a much better job than he did the first time we played them [a 64-60 loss]."

Kling also contributed on defense, collecting four steals on a night when Cortland only committed six turnovers.

The Knights travel to Plattsburgh on Friday to take on the top-seeded Cardinals. Plattsburgh, which has yet to lose a conference game, is ranked 10th nationally.

For the women, it was a disappointing end to a resurrected season. After losing 10 of their first 12 games, the outlook was bleak for the Lady Knights, but they clawed their way back into SUNYAC contention by winning 10 of their next 13.

That momentum was brought to an abrupt halt by third-seeded Oneonta, which overcame a 14-point second-half deficit to defeat Geneseo 59-54.

The sixth-seeded Lady Knights appeared to be rolling to victory, opening the second half with a 15-2 run. But the Red Dragons countered with a run of their own, going on a 16-2 spurt to tie the game at 47 with six minutes to play.

After Geneseo briefly regained the lead, Oneonta went on a 12-0 run from which the Knights never recovered.

"I thought for 30 minutes we dominated most aspects of play," said coach Scott Hemer. "We had [Oneonta's] backs against the wall, but then they turned the table and put our backs against the wall, and…we could not, mentally, handle that kind of pressure."

Heading into next year, the women lose the quartet of seniors Annie Verdino, Lydia Reed, Merrissa Wilson and Amanda Haney.

Reflecting on the late-season run, Hemer said, "Hopefully it's something [the seniors] can take with them, that they learned through basketball about adversity and perseverance."