PLATTSBURGH — After a long hiatus, the Plattsburgh State women’s basketball team heads into its first SUNY Athletic Conference weekend of the new year.
The first of back-to-back games will be tonight against Geneseo, the only team in the conference Plattsburgh was not able to defeat last year. Brockport will visit on Saturday.
“Geneso is a really good team,” Cardinals coach Cheryl Cole said. “They’ve got a lot of pieces, a lot of depth and talent; we’ll have to be ready to play.”
For the Knights (6-1), it will be their first game in the conference, and although Plattsburgh (6-3) has had a taste of SUNYAC play this season, Cole didn’t feel like that would play much of a factor.
“We have been off for a month, so I’m not sure if it really helps us or not,” Cole said. “What did help us was being able to play earlier this week.”
The Cardinals, led by point guard Brittany Marshall’s 21 points, managed a 58-54 victory Tuesday against Middlebury.
“We’re going to try and do a better job than (Tuesday) of (knowing) when to push the tempo and when to be more patient,” Cole said. “We’ll need to read more of the flow of the game.”
Geneseo is led by Shannon McGinnis, who is averaging just over 17 points and nine rebounds per game while shooting 44 percent from the floor.
“(McGinnis) was Rookie of the Year two years ago,” Cole said. “She’s an aggressive kid who can shoot the three,”
Along with McGinnis, Cole mentioned point guard Dana Cohen and center Allison McKenna as two players who also play a huge role on the floor for the Knights.
“I think it’s going to be a battle, especially at the point guard position,” Cole said. “Both (Cohen and Marshall) are tough kids, both confident ball handlers and both lead their teams.”
“Devona (Paul) got a feel for (McKenna) last year, but she looks forward for that challenge, (it’s) who’s going to be able to dictate the paint,” Cole added.
Cohen has had a solid season, shooting 43.5 percent from the field and nearly 47 percent from 3-point land, which is good for 10 points per game. McKenna is averaging about eight points, seven boards and about two blocks a contest.
“They’re really competitive,” Cole said. “They post some challenges for us. They have a lot of talent; the game is going to come down to who executes better.”
The Cardinals are led by Kathleen Payne, who is averaging 19 points, seven boards and three assists per game.
Marshall is second in scoring behind Payne with almost 14 points a contest, while dishing out nearly five assists and pulling down about four rebounds per game.
Paul meanwhile, is averaging about nine points and seven rebounds per game and has accumulated a team high 17 blocks thus far this season.
“It should be a tremendously exciting game,” Cole said. “It’s going to come down to who can exploit the other a little bit better; it’s going to be a great game, and I’m looking forward to it.”
On paper Plattsburgh has the upper hand on Brockport (4-3) in nearly all statistical categories. The Cardinals average more points per game (69-61) and rebounds per game (43-42) and overall are more athletic than their conference foe.
With a huge game today, Cole refused to take Saturday lightly, as she well knows each game in SUNYAC play is important.
“We can’t overlook anybody,” Cole said. “They will play hard, and they’ll be looking to get a win; anything can happen in 40 minutes.”
Freshmen Hannah Rehbaum and Faith Welch lead the Golden Eagles offensively with 13.2 and 12.9 points per game, respectively.
“We’ll have to come out and be ready for Saturday as well. We’ll have to play just as hard,” Cole said. “We prepare for everybody the same; it doesn’t change for the opponent. We have to always play at our level.”
The Cardinals will host their annual alumni game at 11 a.m Saturday at Memorial Hall before they tip off against the Golden Eagles.