After a pair of dominant performances against SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Plattsburgh on Feb. 17 and 18, respectively, the women's basketball team fell to SUNY Cortland in the quarterfinals of the SUNYAC tournament on Tuesday Feb. 21.
The Knights defeated Potsdam by 18 points on Feb. 17 and then defeated Plattsburgh by 43 points on Feb. 18, holding the conference's third-ranked offense to a mere 29 points. With both victories, Geneseo clinched the No. 4 seed in the SUNYAC tournament and a home game against the Red Dragons of Cortland.
The Knights and Red Dragons faced off for the third time on Feb. 21 after the teams split the two regular season matchups, which included a hard fought Geneseo victory in overtime on Dec. 6.
Tuesday's game was no different as the two teams traded leads in the first half, with Cortland taking a three-point advantage at halftime.
"They responded last night [against Cortland]," said head coach Scott Hemer. "I thought they played very hard; I thought they stuck to the game plan."
Cortland, who entered the night ranked first in the conference in total offense and first in 3-point field goal percentage, played to its strengths, taking a total of 40 shots beyond the arc and making a record 14, including six by senior Brittany Cohen.
"The way Cortland hurts you is when they break you down with the dribble and find open shooters on the perimeter, and I thought for the most part we stuck to that game plan of forcing them to take contested threes," said Hemer. "I said to [the team] before the game that if Cortland knocks down 12 or 13 threes we're going to have a tough time … Ironically they knocked down 14."
Despite Cortland's success from beyond the arc, Geneseo remained in the game, overcoming a seven-point deficit with under six minutes to play, eventually tying the game at 57 on a 3-pointer by first year Shannon McGinnis. Junior Melissa Graham hit a clutch three and senior Bri Dunton nailed two foul shots to put the Knights up 62-58 with 20 seconds left.
After a Cortland basket with 10 seconds left, however, the Knights committed a costly turnover on the in-bounds pass, allowing Cortland to regain possession. Cohen was fouled and hit her two shots to send the game to overtime.
"The one thing we've asked these kids all year … is to hold themselves accountable during and after each game and certainly as a coach I can't ask them to do that and not do that myself," said Hemer. "I should have put them in a better position with nine seconds left to get the ball in bounds and I didn't, so that one's on me. I feel bad that it cost that group a chance to move on, but we can't go back."
Cortland took advantage in overtime, as the Knights missed opportunities, managing only one basket and falling, 70-64.
"I think emotionally it took a lot out of them at the end of the game to have the turnover and give up the tying free throws, but I thought they came out and responded with energy. I don't think they gave in or played without emotion in the overtime," said Hemer. "I think we had some chances and didn't capitalize. Again, that's why you play the game."
The Knights finish the season 16-10 and graduate a talented class of senior leaders in Dunton, Katelyn Charbonneau, Meghan Prue, Kristina Licatese and Stephanie Ruback.