PLATTSBURGH — Bring out the brooms. The Cardinals are looking for a couple of series sweeps.
The Plattsburgh State women’s basketball team is back on its home floor this weekend against Oneonta and New Paltz, two teams the Cardinals beat on the road merely two weeks ago.
“It will be a big weekend,” Plattsburgh coach Cheryl Cole said. “Obviously both these teams don’t want to be swept. We got to be on our game, stay within ourselves, don’t allow the other team to force us into things.”
Plattsburgh (13-4, 7-2 SUNYAC) tips-off against Oneonta (13-4, 7-3) at 6 p.m. today and New Paltz (3-14, 1-9), at 2 p.m. Saturday.
On Jan. 17, Plattsburgh defeated the Hawks 67-60 in New Paltz after losing there twice last season.
“It was a personal goal of our team to be successful on that floor,” Cole said.
New Paltz put up a hard-fought battle, frustrating the Cardinals with its aggressive zone defense and forcing Plattsburgh into an uncharacteristic 26 turnovers. Despite the Cardinals’ lackluster performance, they managed to walk away with the victory.
“It was a game that meant the most to our upperclassmen, and I think our emotions got the better of us,” Cole said. “Their style rattled us a bit, and being on the road, a lot of those elements didn’t help us. But we got the win, which was huge.”
Kit Small (16 points, seven rebounds) and Courtney Irby (14 points, six rebounds) led the Hawks on offense.
New Paltz gave Plattsburgh its best game of the season, and Cole expressed no doubt that the Hawks will give the same amount of effort and energy heading into the second matchup.
“I expect them to come out hard,” Cole said. “They kept it close (last game), they’re competitive, they have a lot of pride, they’re not going to show any quit. Their game is to make us uncomfortable. We’re going to be ready to play with more composure.”
After escaping New Paltz with a win, the Cardinals came ready to play in Oneonta the following afternoon.
Plattsburgh played tremendous defense against the Red Dragons’ top two players, Aleshia Crawford and Sarah Longto. Crawford finished with 17 points, on 5-for-17 shooting from the field and an abysmal 1-for-8 from behind the arc. The 6-foot-3-inch Longto had an even worse outing, as she finished with three points on 1-of-3 shooting and seven rebounds.
“Crawford (is) their leader, their best 3-point shooter, a kid we always got to find,” Cole said. “We did a good job on her (last game); we want to try to limit good looks. She’s a good player. We’re not going to stop her; we just want to contain her.”
Cole noted the defense on Longto was a “team effort.” Misha Green, Tequila Lloyd and Stephanie Linder each took turns playing the Red Dragons’ center inside, but Cole also credited the Cardinals’ “help defense and pressure on the ball” which “limited touches inside.”
“They have a good mix of inside, outside capabilities,” Cole said. “I thought we played real well defensively against them.”
The game was tied at the half, but the Cardinals came out on fire, scoring 42 second-half points. They came away with the 70-59 victory against a team that has held opponents to an average of 52.7 points per contest.
“They are a very good defensive team. That is what they’re best at. Keeping the score low, that’s their style,” Cole said. “(They’re) disciplined in what they do, and they have depth.”
After a long road weekend, Cole and her team are happy to be back on their own floor and, most importantly, would like to keep their undefeated home win streak intact.
“We always want to be better than the last game,” Cole said. “We had a brutal weekend on the road against Buffalo State and Fredonia — (now that) we’re back home it’s important to stick with what we do well. Nobody has to do more than what they’re capable of. If we do these things well, we’ll be pleased about how the weekend ends up.”