Last Friday the Geneseo women's basketball team traveled to SUNY Cortland and fell at the hands of the top-seeded Red Dragons, 64-51, ending their season just 40 minutes shy of the SUNYAC title game.
After more than an hour delay due to weather conditions and another hour spent waiting for the completion of the first semifinal matchup between SUNY Oneonta and SUNY New Paltz, which lasted four overtimes, the game finally got underway around 10:15 p.m. as the Knights broke out to an early lead. Cortland, however, exploded for 14 unanswered points and closed out the first half with a 10-point, 32-22 advantage.
In the second half, the Knights put together a run of their own. Trailing 38-24, they scored 14 points and limited Cortland to only two baskets, to pull within four points. That run, buoyed by a pair of three-pointers by freshman Melissa Graham, was the closest the Knights ever came to the lead as the Red Dragons proceeded to score another 11 straight, going on to win by a total of 13 points.
The delay no doubt affected both squads but Geneseo head coach Scott Hemer quickly laid to rest the notion that that was the reason for the Knight's loss. "I think [the delay] took a little bit out of us, but things like that affect both teams," he said. "But we can't point a finger at that as the reason why we lost the game."
Cortland, who went on to win the SUNYAC championship on Saturday night by a score of 51-45 against New Paltz, played like champions as they held Geneseo's top three scorers to only 12 points on 4-23 shooting. Those scorers - juniors Khadija Campbell and Alyssa Polosky and sophomore Bri Dunton - averaged 31 points per game prior to Friday's matchup.
Campbell and Polosky were ineffective early in the first half due to foul trouble, and Dunton shot 1-10 from the field. "We just weren't able to get the same type of production out of our bench that we were getting out of [Campbell and Polosky]," Hemer said. "It hurts when two of your key players are only able to participate half the time."
Graham, who scored 14 points, shooting 5-9 from the field and 4-5 from beyond the arc, was one bright spot for the Knights. Junior Brittany Finkle also impressed coming off the bench with a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds to earn herself an All-Tournament selection.
The night, however, belonged to Cortland's Jessica Laing who added a double-double of her own, scoring 22 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Laing, who is arguably the best player in all of Division III women's basketball, appeared determined not to relinquish Cortland's lead as she put the Knights away with 17 of her 22 points coming in the second half.
"She was as good as advertised," Hemer said.
The team finished their season with an overall record of 16-11, doubling their win total from a year ago. "I don't think the final game takes away anything from what this group of young ladies has been able to accomplish," Hemer said. "We didn't know what to expect this year and I thought this group did a great job of overcoming adversity and putting themselves in a position to win just about every game."