The women's basketball team defeated SUNY Oswego, 74-59, on Jan. 24 to improve to 11-6 on the season, 6-4 in conference play and 6-0 at home. Plagued by nagging injuries and inconsistent play, Tuesday's game marked an important victory for the Knights.
"It's a long season and I think if nothing else we just needed to work hard to get ourselves back on track and feeling good about ourselves again," said head coach Scott Hemer. "This group is certainly capable of accomplishing some special things this year, but we've got to get back to doing some of the little things that were winning us games earlier in January and I think we started to do that [against Oswego]."
Against the Lakers, the Knights broke out to an early 15-2 lead but saw it disappear at the hands of costly turnovers and poor shot selection. At halftime, the Knights led by only three points.
We talked in the locker room about cutting down on those poor turnovers, forcing them to take more low percentage shots and not putting them at the free throw line as much," said Hemer. "I thought they did a nice job of that in the second half and that was the difference in the game."
In the second half, the Knights not only cut down on the turnovers but also attacked the basket more effectively and cruised to a 15-point victory. Junior Melissa Graham led the team with 14 points and 14 rebounds, on an injured ankle no less, while senior Bri Dunton contributed 12 points, eight rebounds, three assists and five key steals.
Geneseo's aggressive, up-tempo style naturally lends itself to a high turnover count. If the Knights are to be more effective down the stretch, however, they must be able to cut down on the careless turnovers that plagued them in the first half against Oswego. Geneseo is currently ranked ninth in the conference in turnover margin at -2.56, just ahead of last place SUNY Brockport.
"It's the bad turnovers that we have to make a commitment towards eliminating if we are going to be legitimate contenders for the conference championship," said Hemer.
In their previous eight games, the Knights were 5-3 with solid wins over Buffalo State College and SUNY Fredonia; on the same stretch, however, the Knights also suffered losses to both SUNY Oneonta and SUNY New Paltz.
"I simply felt as if we didn't come mentally prepared to play [Oneonta or New Paltz] and that was disappointing to us … I thought we were very passive both days," said Hemer. "If they choose to be the team that they saw they could be when we played Buffalo State I think they're as good as anybody in the conference if not better. It's that simple."
"They certainly have the makeup basketball-wise to get the train rolling and achieve all that I believe they want to achieve," said Hemer. "The question and the challenge is going to be ‘Do they have the mental makeup?' and I'm excited to see how they respond moving forward."
The Knights travel to Brockport on Saturday Jan. 28 to take on the Golden Eagles.