By TIM PULSIFER
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Heading into this weekend’s conference play, Plattsburgh State women’s basketball coach Cheryl Cole indicated she was looking for a statement win from her exciting young team.
On Friday night, the Cardinals provided just that, rolling to a huge 79-50 SUNY Athletic Conference win over a very good Fredonia squad at Memorial Hall.
“We wanted to make a statement to the conference and take care of business at home,” Cole said. “It’s wasn’t perfect; we turned the ball over a little more than I’d like, but it is hard to find fault with a performance like this.
“We played great team defense, rebounded the ball extremely well and had some great contributions off the bench. All in all, this was one of most complete team efforts we’ve seen in quite some time.”
Plattsburgh (4-2, 2-1 SUNYAC) will be looking for a similar effort today versus Buffalo State.
There was very little indication of an impending blowout as play went back and forth in Friday’s opening half. Plattsburgh trailed by as many as seven points early on but managed to claim a somewhat fragile 29-25 advantage by the break, thanks primarily to the explosive play of point guard Brittany Marshall. The Malone native ignited the offense, scoring 14 of her game-high 21 points in the opening half.
“We had some trouble getting into any kind of a rhythm on offense early on,” Cole said. “But Britt really stepped up and gave us a spark when we needed it. They just couldn’t defend her off the dribble, and she was able to find a clear path to the lane all night. That was huge for us, particularly in the first half when things were going back and forth.”
What was a tight, very physical and highly competitive game in the first half became something quite different in the second.
Plattsburgh, which played outstanding team defense all night, began to assert itself on the other side of the ball in the second stanza as well.
The Cardinals began to score in the open court in transition as well as in their halfcourt offense, and the result was a 50-point second half explosion that left the Blue Devils in the dust.
“We really executed and played well in that second half,” Cole said. “The thing I think I liked the most was that we played great team basketball and we finished the job, leaving no doubt. That’s how you take care of business on your home floor. The offense also really fed off the defensive effort, and everyone contributed.
“Our depth and talent off the bench also showed itself. We had people coming off the bench and making an impact right away. We’d put our subs in, and the offense didn’t seem to skip a beat. It was just one of those games when everyone was dialed in. It was just a tremendous team effort and something you’d like to have every night.”
Plattsburgh showed outstanding balance on offense.
Tequilla Lloyd chipped in with 11 points, all in the second half, and Catherine Cassidy added nine points and five assists to pace the winners, who, at the end of the night, had 11 players make the scoring column.
As solid as the offensive production was for the Cardinals, particularly in the second half, the defense was perhaps even better.
Dana Nucaro, Kathleen Payne, Devona Paul, Misha Green, Lloyd and Cassidy anchored a staunch interior defense that kept the normally high-scoring Blue Devils on the perimeter all night long. Fredonia connected on just 15-of-57 attempts (26.3%), including just 5of -22 shooting (22.7%) from 3-point range for the game.
The Cardinals also rebounded the ball at both ends of the floor, a major point of emphasis entering the current campaign. Plattsburgh outrebounded Fredonia 48-34.
Another testament to the one-sided nature of Friday night’s game was that the defending SUNYAC scoring champion Becky Hebert made good on just four of her 12 field goal attempts. Hebert did connect on all 10 of her free throw attempts, giving her a team-high 19 points.
Plattsburgh State 79, Fredonia 50
Austin 1-1-4; Lindquist 1-0-2; Hebert 4-10-19; MacCauley 0-0-0; Warren 3-1-8; Cussins 0-3-3; Cassella 0-0-0; LaForce 3-0-7; Moore 1-0-3; Brunswick 0-0-0; Riley 2-0-4. Totals: 15-15-50.
Plattsburgh State (79)
Marshall 9-1-21; Green 2-1-5; Cassidy 4-0-9; Payne 1-2-4; Nucaro 3-1-7; Halstead 0-2-2; Pellerin 1-2-4; Hughes 0-0-0; Lloyd 5-1-11; Reifinger 2-0-5; Paul 2-1-5; Hart 0-0-0; Adedapo 0-0-0; Lewis 1-0-2. Totals: 31-12-79.
Halftime: Plattsburgh State 29-25.
3-point goals: Fredonia (5), Austin, Warren, Hebert, LaForce, Moore. Plattsburgh (5), Marshall 2; Cassidy, Nucaro, Reifinger.