Women’s basketball favored to win conference tournament after record regular season

The Geneseo women’s basketball team looks to extend its success this season when the Knights host the semifinals and finals of the SUNYAC Tournament on Friday Feb. 27 and Saturday Feb. 28. The Knights have secured the number one seed entering into the playoffs, giving them a first-round bye and automatically pushing them into the semifinals to play SUNY Oneonta—a team that beat SUNY Plattsburgh 58-57 on Tuesday Feb. 24.

On the other side of the bracket, SUNY Cortland earned the second seed and also received a first-round bye. The Red Dragons will play SUNY New Paltz, after defeating Buffalo State 79-58 on Tuesday Feb. 24. 

The Knights have had great success at home this season, going 10-0 on their home court. They are also second in the conference at points per game with 66.4. But according to senior forward Lea Sobieraski, the best advantage is the atmosphere.

“From our first preseason meetings, we wanted to host SUNYACs,” Sobieraski said. “We worked together as a unit to achieve this, but the fans and our own court help us so much. Playing where we practice every day and being able to be more at ease on our home court is the best feeling.”

The last time Geneseo hosted the tournament was in 2011 when the Knights won the championship. Since then, they have reached the finals three out of the past four years, coming up short on the last two. Sobieraski was a freshman on that 2011 team and noted that “this team has many of the same characteristics and drive that that 2011 team possessed.” 

Senior forward Shannon McGinnis has been on the losing side of the championship since her career began here, but she explained that this time can be different with home-court advantage on their side.

“We have worked hard all year to get to this point, and we give a 100 percent every time we step on the court. Especially now that we are on our home court for the tournament, it can only help us,” McGinnis said. “The past two years, we had to deal with other team’s fans and for once, it would be nice for our fans to come out and cheer us on. It would make a world of difference.”

The rest of the conference has struggled when it has played the Knights this year, with opponents shooting just 34 percent from the field and a miserable 65.7 percent from the free throw line. The Knights pride themselves on the defensive side of the ball. Opponents also average just 53.8 points per game against Geneseo, the lowest total in the SUNYAC.

The Knights will put their 15-game winning streak on the line when they face Oneonta on Friday Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday night, there very well could be a trophy with Geneseo’s name on it.