BY TIM PULSIFER
---- — PLATTSBURGH — For 20 minutes Plattsburgh State’s women’s basketball team could do no wrong and more than held its own against a loaded Williams College squad, regarded by many, as one of the strongest Division III teams in the East.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals there are two halves to every basketball game and by the final buzzer Plattsburgh came out on the short end of a 59-44 decision.
Playing some of its best basketball of the season, Plattsburgh held the lead the entire first half and went into the break boasting a somewhat surprising 33-19 lead.
The Cardinals, led by Tequilla Lloyd’s 10-point performance, shot the ball extremely well early on, connecting on 15-of-30 (50%) from the field, in the opening stanza. Perhaps even more impressive was a defensive effort that limited the high-powered Ephs offense to just seven field goals on 39 attempts (17.9%) over the first 20 minutes of play.
“We played an awesome first half and really gave ourselelves a chance,” said Plattsburgh coach Cheryl Cole. “We played loose, weren’t forcing shots and really executed extremely well against a very good team.”
The euphoria would not last, however, as Williams went on an 18-4 run to open the second half to pull even with just over 10 minutes to play.
“We just stopped doing all the things that had worked so well for us in the first half,” said Cole. “We just seemed to lose our focus and started playing tentative, not to lose. We also got outworked by a more disciplined, veteran team that knows what it takes to win these types of games. That’s just something we haven’t yet learned how to do yet.
“They were a lot taller than us, but it wasn’t their height that beat us in the second half, it was more about us playing scared, not fighting hard enough and getting outworked by a veteran team that knows how to finish games. I think our youth and inexperience may have got the best of us tonight us tonight but, we’ll learn from this experience and take it with us as we move forward.”
After drawing even, the Ephs dominated the final ten minutes of play at both ends and pulled away to the double-digit victory.
“We broke down in the second half but, there is no shame in losing to a team like that,” said Cole, whose team was outscored 40-11 in the second half. “They are the best team we’ve seen so far, likely the best we’ll see all year; one that was ranked nationally at the start of the year and will likely get an NCAA bid. We played them tough for a half and it’s tough to lose this way, blowing a lead like we did but, they are definitely the real deal. They are well-coached, made the adjustments they needed to make and deserved to win the game.There were some positives however, so hopefully, we can just put this behind us, keep working and focus on what’s still in front of us.”
Williams (13-2, 3-1 NESCAC) assumed control in the second half with its superior play at both ends of the floor. The Cardinals were unable to attack the paint or the perimeter with any success and were unable to slow the Ephs bigs down in the post, particularly over the final 20 minutes of play.
Claire Baecher (14 points and 13 rebounds) and Danny Rainer (14 points and 12 rebounds) each had impressive double-doubles and Ellen Cook added a game-high 15 point effort to pace an extremely well-balanced and relentless attack for Williams.
Kathleen Payne had a team-high 13 points but, was held to only three after the break and Lloyd finished with 11 but, only a single free throw in the second stanza, for Plattsburgh (8-5, 3-1 SUNYAC).
The Cardinals held their own on the boards early on but, in the end, were outrebounded by a margin of 55-42 for the game.
Plattsburgh will return to conference play this weekend with key matchups against New Paltz on Friday night (6 p.m.) followed by a scrap with Oneonta State on Saturday afternoon (2 p.m.) Both of this weekend’s SUNYAC games will be played at Memorial Hall.
Williams College 59, Plattsburgh State 44
Baecher 5-4-14; Rainer 6-2-14; MacDonald 0-1-1; Harding 1-2-4; Cook 5-4-15; Borderud 0-0-0; Litman 1-0-2; Uwanaka 0-0-0; Rehnquist 4-0-9. Totals: 22-13-59.
Plattsburgh State (44)
Marshall 2-1-6; Green 1-2-4; Llloyd 5-1-11; Payne 5-3-13; Cassidy 0-0-0; Reifinger 2-0-4; Paul 1-0-2; Nucaro 0-0-0; Lewis 2-0-4. Totals: 18-7-44.
Halftime: Plattsburgh 33-19.
3-point goals: Plattsburgh State (1) Marshall. Williams (2) Cook, Rehnquist.