PLATTSBURGH — “We’re in!”
Those were the words uttered by a smiling and somewhat relieved Plattsburgh State’s women’s basketball coach Cheryl Cole in the aftermath of Friday night’s exciting 72-60 victory over Cortland at Memorial Hall.
Both teams entered the game sporting identical 8-8 conference records and needing a victory in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. In front of the hometown fans, the Cardinals got the job done, punching their ticket to the SUNY Athletic Conference Tournament.
“We needed this one in a big way, and the ladies really came through,” Cole said. “We played two strong halves of basketball and were able to respond down the stretch and finish strong.
“Finishing and closing out games has sometimes been a problem for us this year, but (Friday) I think we were able to show just how far we’ve come as a team. We were able to keep our composure down the stretch, make some shots and actually win quite comfortably.”
The Cardinals will wrap up their regular season this afternoon against Oswego.
Plattsburgh (13-11, 9-8 SUNYAC) led for virtually the entire first half and went into the break ahead 29-26.
“We came out well, but I thought we turned the ball over a few too many times in the first half,” Cole said. “We also had a couple of defensive breakdowns, making things a little tighter than I would have liked. But all in all, I was pretty pleased with the way we were playing in the first half.”
Cortland (10-13, 8-9) showed no signs of going away, however, and knotted the game at 39 with 13 minutes remaining. The bulk of the offense for the Red Dragons came from the perimeter. Cortland finished with eight 3-pointers, including five in the second stanza.
Plattsburgh standout Kathleen Payne took matters into her own hands. Payne, who scored 11 of her game-high 18 points in the second half, led a 17-7 run that put the Cardinals in front for good.