During the 2007-2008 season – Scott Hemer's first as head coach – the women's basketball team lost a total of 14 games. Almost four years later, the number 14 has resurfaced, but this time it's the number of consecutive games the team has won.
A pivotal part of that turnaround has been the team's five seniors: Alyssa Polosky, Brittany Finkle, Lesley Niebel, Khadija Campbell and Melissa Loughlin, who were brought in personally by Hemer to aid in the program's resurgence. It was only fitting that the Knights notch their 14th straight victory, over SUNY Plattsburgh, on Senior Day.
"It's a special day for them. It's a culmination of their efforts over the past several years," Hemer said of his seniors. "Especially knowing how hard they've worked to take this program as far as they have, I think it was certainly a very emotional day for them and something they were very excited about."
The seniors started and finished the day together on the floor in what became a vigorous 29-point thrashing of the Cardinals. "I think the young ladies stepped up this weekend and rose to that challenge well. Our energy level was critical," Hemer said. "It was something that we've spent a lot of time discussing and hopefully they left realizing … what they're capable of doing on the floor."
Finkle led the way for the Knights, equaling her career high with 16 points and six steals; Polosky and sophomore Melissa Graham added 14 points.
"Anytime you do a senior day like that it's great to give [the seniors] an opportunity to come off the floor by themselves at the end of a big win," Hemer said. "This group had earned the right to have that opportunity."
Although the Knights don't have a player that leads the conference in scoring, their entire starting five does average over eight points per game, a balance that has set them apart from the competition this year.
Team chemistry is also a visible strength for the Knights, something that, according to Campbell, has led to the team's program-best 18-2 overall record.
"I don't know about a lot of other teams in our conference, but I think our chemistry off the court really translates on the court," she said.
On Friday, Hemer reached a milestone of his own, winning his 200th career college basketball game when the Knights defeated SUNY Potsdam 74-46. Sophomore Meghan Prue came off the bench to score 10 points including three from downtown and Campbell added 11 points and eight rebounds of her own.
The Knights finish the season with four of their final five games on the road; they will play SUNY Cortland, SUNY Oneonta, SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Oswego at away games and take on SUNY Fredonia on their home court.
"I still think we have a long way to go. We have five games left in the regular season and nobody is certainly going to roll over for us at this point," Hemer said. "We certainly know that this is going to be a challenging end of the season and our goals are to simply go out each night and play as well as we possibly can … and let the scoreboard take care of itself."
However the Knights finish their season, it will definitely be a team effort, led in part by the seniors. "They've really put in a lot of time and done a lot for this program in terms of creating a new culture, and that's going to be something that will be a part of this group's legacy," Hemer said.
The Knights travel to Oneonta on Friday, embarking on the latter portion of what Hemer has called a "magical" season.
"It really hasn't hit me personally yet," said Campbell of playing in her final year at Geneseo. "I have high hopes for our season … it's been a long time coming."