Despite having a perfect regular season and ranking within the top 20 nationally, SUNY Geneseo fell to the SUNY New Paltz Hawks 58-57 on Saturday Feb. 25 in the SUNYAC Tournament Championship Final.
The Knights went into the championship having won against the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons in the semifinals the day before. In addition to having a better record, the Knights also had home field advantage.
The game was eventful, though, as the two teams volleyed the lead back and forth; six times, to be exact. The Knights were down at the half 33-29 and managed to stay neck and neck with the Hawks for the next two quarters, but it wasn’t enough.
A few questionable calls, a pinch of bad luck and the Knights were served their first loss. Like spike strips, the girls were abruptly stopped by the Hawks and denied the crown.
“We were obviously pretty bummed because we thought we deserved to win,” sophomore forward McKenna Brooks said.
The 6’1” Oswego native has emerged as a star over the past few weeks, putting up impressive numbers for the Knights. Brooks played for 22 minutes in the championship and managed to pick up 15 points on nine rebounds.
One would expect a team to be down and unmotivated by a one-point loss in the championship game, especially after coming off a perfect regular season; but the team can push on through the loss, according to Brooks.
“It didn’t really feel like we lost,” Brooks said. “We still feel like the same team.”
Although the Knights may have fallen short in the SUNYAC Tournament, their season is not over. Since Geneseo had such an impressive regular season, they have qualified for the NCAA Tournament.
Their first matchup will take place Friday March 3 at 7 p.m. at Geneseo. The Knights will host the Muhlenberg College Mules, a team the Knights have not faced this season.
The Mules are a member of the Centennial Conference, which is slightly more competitive than the SUNYACs. Muhlenberg went 20-7 and managed to win the Centennial Conference Championship against the Gettysburg College Bullets 74-61.
Though the Knights have not played Muhlenberg, they will not allow that to be a disadvantage for them. The coaching staff and the team will be analyzing tapes in preparation for the game.
If the Knights can defeat the Mules, they will either face the University of Rochester or Keene State College, which would also be played at home. With all of the home field advantages, the Knights hope to have an edge in the NCAA Tournament.
The Knights will tip off at 7 p.m. on Friday March 3 in the Kuhl Gym.