Women’s basketball team falls to reigning national champions after win in NCAA game

With the regular season and the SUNYACs finished, Geneseo women’s basketball traveled to Amherst, Mass. to compete in the NCAA’s Division III tournament. Although they came away with a win on Friday March 1 against the Vassar College Brewers, they didn’t make it past Amherst’s own Amherst College Mammoths in a game on Saturday March 2. 

“Going in, we were all super excited about being an at-large bid to the NCAAs because I don’t know if we all expected it,” junior guard Sara Ciotti said. “We killed it, we played really well the first game and in the second game, I think we killed it too, but the other team was just really good.” 

The Knights first arrived at LeFrak Gymnasium at Amherst College to face off against the Brewers in an evening game on Friday. The Brewers, another upstate team that just barely lost out in their own league’s championship game, were pitted against the Knights in what was a foreign court in a foreign state for both. 

Throughout the first half, the match seemed to be at a stalemate. Any time the Knights began to pull away with the score, the Brewers found themselves able to make up the deficit with a scoring run. By the end of the third quarter, Geneseo maintained a slight edge but not one to provide much comfort. 

Within a couple minutes of play in the fourth quarter, there was no question. Geneseo practically lived on one half of the court for the last ten minutes, putting up a whopping 20 points to Vassar’s five. Three straight three-pointers from sophomore guard Natalie Alfieri and Ciotti erased any lingering doubts about the game’s results. 

“In the first game, Natalie Alfieri killed it, she absolutely lit it up from the three,” Ciotti said. “Then in the second game, [senior guard] Kelsey Poplawksi killed it from the three. She hit three in a row right in the corner and that really helped us keep it somewhat close.” 

With one challenge checked off, the Knights had little more than 24 hours to prepare for their next: the Amherst Mammoths on their home court. 

Throughout, Geneseo and Amherst kept it close. At each quarter’s end, the Knights never trailed by more than three or four points, but they were also never able to pull ahead. 

“I think we gave them a run for their money. I think they underestimated us, and we did really well—a 12-point deficit really isn’t that much,” Ciotti said. “After the game we looked back … and there were some sloppy turnovers and some lay-ups that we could have finished, but it’s all part of the game. That stuff just happens.” 

Eventually, after two days of games and two tourneys and a five-month season, the Knights finished off their year. Making the second round of the NCAA DIII tournament affirmed the abilities of the team’s head coach Alyssa Polosky, who stepped in this year to replace long-time head coach Scott Hemer after he left for Canisius College. 

“It was the first year with a new coach and I absolutely loved it, it was a lot of fun. I think all of the girls really loved it,” Ciotti said. “It was a big transition, not huge in the sense that we have pretty much the same set-up … the atmosphere really kept well.”