Despite strong season, women’s basketball defeated by Ithaca College in first round of NCAA Tournament

The women celebrate their victory over SUNY Oneonta in the SUNYAC Championship on Feb. 24. Although the Knights had a nearly perfect season, they were unable to hold their own against Ithaca College during the NCAA Tournament, causing their 2017-18 season to come to an end. (Keith Walters/director of multimedia)

After a year of great success for a young team, the Geneseo Knights women’s basketball team’s 2017-18 run has come to a close.

The Knights dropped their NCAA Division III Tournament opener to the Ithaca College Bombers in Boston on March 2. After struggling against the Bombers during the first half, the Knights managed to fight their way back to a four-point game at the start of the fourth quarter. The push, however, just was not enough. 

Despite their relentless efforts, the women simply could not overcome the deficit and lost the game to Ithaca 54-47. 

Although the Knights will not advance further into the NCAA Tournament, but this does not diminish the team’s achievements this season. 

Geneseo won the SUNYAC Championship against SUNY Oneonta just a week prior to the NCAA Tournament. Considering the circumstances, that feat on its own was quite impressive.

“Coming into the season, we certainly realized that there was going to be some growing pains,” head coach Scott Hemer said shortly after winning the SUNYAC Championship. 

Hemer’s remark comes in response to the fact that Geneseo is a team composed of mostly underclassmen. 

“I think we were all quite impressed at how quickly they gelled as a team and were able to perform together on the floor,” Hemer said. 

The Knights claim to success can be attributed to their chemistry, on and off the court. Throughout the season, athletes continually emphasized both the importance of connection and heart. Players with at least one season under their belt like sophomore guard Sara Ciotti attested much of their success to the interactions teammates had with each other. 

This chemistry was especially important because of younger and newer additions to the roster. The majority of the 2017-18 team consisted of freshmen. That being said, it was crucial for the players to familiarize themselves with each other to propel their season in the right direction from the beginning. 

As the Knights start their offseason they will not have the same worries they had coming into the year. Geneseo will only lose one player to graduation, senior guard Samantha Barry. Veterans such as junior forward McKenna Brooks and junior guard Kelsey Poplawski will surely remain crucial leaders on the team. 

“I think they understand that they are very young, they don’t like the tag but they get it,” Hemer said. “They understand that outside of Sam Barry, every one of them will be back next year.”

With a lot of talented underclassmen on this year’s roster, such as freshmen guards Natalie Alfieri and Lindsay Halpin, the Knights are sure to have successful seasons to come. 

“They understood that this season was hopefully in many ways a springboard to futures success,” Hemer said. “I think that this experience will be in value to them moving forward as a group.”