The women's basketball team lost two close road games this past weekend, dropping a 57-54 game to SUNY Oneonta on a three-pointer with five seconds left, followed by a 47-46 loss to SUNY New Paltz.
The consecutive late-game losses were compounded by injuries to two of the team's starting players on Friday: Injuries to sophomore guard Katelyn Charbonneau and junior forward Khadija Campbell forced the Knights to try to overcome two of the top three programs in the conference at less than full strength.
On Friday, Geneseo trailed by just two at the half. Led by junior Alyssa Polosky's 13 points and nine rebounds, the Knights traded the lead with the Red Dragons 10 separate times in a back-and-forth second half. Polosky tied the game at 54 with just over a minute left, before Oneonta made a clutch three-pointer to end the game.
Freshman guard Lisa Rufer made three shots from behind the arc in her 11-point effort off the bench, while fellow freshman and starting guard Melissa Graham brought home 10 points and five assists.
Head coach Scott Hemer cited turnovers along with the injuries to Campbell and Charbonneau as the critical factors in deciding the outcome of Friday's game. "Turnovers are our Achilles heel right now," he said. "We're going to make a commitment to limiting the amount of mistakes for future games." The team had 20 turnovers against Oneonta.
"It's really difficult to take that loss, especially with the two injuries to two of our starters," Hemer added. "We had a good look with one second left, and that's all you can ask for."
After the loss, Hemer said the team had a meeting as "a reminder to ourselves of our goals, and to set our focus on the game ahead of us." The team responded, Hemer said, by playing very competitively against New Paltz, an extremely talented opponent.
Geneseo came out strong to start their next game, leading by as much as 13 points in the first half. Polosky again led her team with 11 points and seven rebounds in the game, supported by nine-point efforts from junior forward Brittany Finkle and sophomore guard Bri Dunton.
In the second half, the Hawks clawed their way back with a 16-4 run to take a one-point lead with just over 12 minutes left. Down by three with less than a minute to go, Graham scored two of her nine points to make it a one-point game.
Geneseo stopped their opponents on the ensuing possession, but could not capitalize on their last-chance efforts.
It took late-game heroics from both second-seeded Oneonta and third-seeded New Paltz to overcome the hurting Geneseo team. "They're giving us all that they have, and that's all we can ask for," Hemer said.
The Knights have no seniors on their team, but have made up for that by advancing their game play throughout the year. "We understood who we are this year," Hemer said. "We've progressed every single game and learned from our mistakes. We're just hoping that our future is sooner than later."
Hemer added that the young team did not have many expectations going into the season. "Anytime you bring this many new players to a team, there's a certain degree of shock to the system," he said. "Yet we haven't lost any conference games by double digits, and not many teams can say that."
The pair of losses dropped the team to a 12-9 record overall, 8-6 in SUNYAC play. They remain in fourth place in the conference, and host SUNY Brockport on Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. As they position themselves for the postseason, Hemer said he believes that in the playoffs, "We're the one team that nobody wants to play."