BY TIM PULSIFER
---- — PLATTSBURGH — It was anything but pretty but, in the end, Plattsburgh State did just enough to score a 51-47 come-from-behind victory over Norwich University in women’s non-conference basketball action at Memorial Hall Tuesday.
The Cardinals, who struggled on offense all night long and trailed, essentially, from start-to-finish, mustered just enough offense down the stretch to pull out a hard-fought, come-from-behind victory.
Trailing 46-38, with just under five minutes remaining, Plattsburgh put together a game-deciding 13-1 run, capped by a long 3-point field goal by Kathleen Payne from deep in the corner. A defensive stop and a pair of clutch free throws by Brooke Reifinger inside the final minute of play sealed the win.
Cardinals coach Cheryl Cole was happy to come away with the victory but was anything but pleased with her team’s offensive performance on a night when the Plattsburgh converted on just 19-of-77 attempts (24.7%) and two-of-17 (11.8%) from beyond the arc, for the game.
“(Norwich) put in a good game plan against us, packing their defense inside but, make no mistake about it, this was on us,” Cole said. “For some reason, we just got off to a real bad start, started getting real casual with the ball, played with no sense of urgency, kept missing shots and struggled, really, all night long.”
Both teams sputtered in the early going as the game remained scoreless for nearly five full minutes before the Cadets went on a 6-0 run to distance themselves from the Cards. Norwich, led by Christine Brammer’s eight first-half points, would extend the lead to 26-19 by the break. Bremmer would finish with a team-high 10 points and eight rebounds to pace the Cadets.
“We were actually fortunate to be down just seven at the half,” Cole said. “That’s how bad things were in the first half for us but, fortunately, our defense was playing pretty well and truthfully they weren’t shooting the ball all that much better. Those two things really kept us in the game early or else it could’ve been a lot worse.”
Norwich (5-8) extended its advantage to 34-19 over the first five minutes of the second stanza and threatened to put the game away before Plattsburgh finally regrouped and began to battle back.
“It wasn’t looking good but, fortunately, we were able to stay together, weather the storm and in the end, steal a win,” Cole said. “We could have folded and we didn’t. That was a positive that came out of this game.”
The Cardinals second-half comeback was triggered by Payne, who seized the initiative, scoring 15 of her
game-high 18 points after the break. The sophomore standout also had a game-high 10 rebounds and a pair of blocks to complete an outstanding double-double performance for the Cardinals.
Plattsburgh’s lone lead of the game came at the 28-second mark after Payne’s 3-pointer capped the rally.
“K.P. just put us on her back and willed herself at the end,” Cole said. “It wasn’t pretty tonight but, with as poorly as we shot tonight, I am just happy to come out of this with a W. Sometimes, you have to win ugly and tonight we did that. Hopefully, now, we can put this behind us, learn from this game and play much better this weekend. We’ll need to play a lot better if we plan on being successful as we move forward but, I am confident that, with this group, we can get that done.”
The Cardinals’ defense played a key role in Tuesday’s come-from-behind win, limiting the Cadets to just six-of-34 shooting (17.6%) in the second half and just 15-of-59 (25.4%) for the game.
Plattsburgh (7-3, 3-1 SUNYAC) will resume conference play this weekend at Genseo on Friday night followed by a matchup at Brockport on Saturday afternoon.
Plattsburgh State 51,
Norwich University 47
Brown 2-2-7, Sweeney 2-1-6, Clark 0-2-2, Curray 2-2-7, Brammer 5-0-10, Curler 1-1-3, Butler 1-0-2, Lotti 1-3-5, Blankenship 0-0-0, Steiner 1-3-5, Laidlaw 0-0-0. Totals: 15-14-47.
Plattsburgh State (51)
Marshall 2-0-4, Green 1-4-6, Reifinger 0-2-2, Paul 3-1-7, Payne 8-1-18, Halstead 1-2-4, Lloyd 0-0-0, Cassidy 1-0-3, Nucaro 2-0-4, Adedapo 0-1-1, Coryea 0-0-0, Lewis 1-0-2. Totals: 19-11-51.
3-point goals: Norwich (3) Brown, Sweeney, Curry . Plattsburgh State (2) Payne, Cassidy.
Halftime: Norwich, 26-19.