By Tim Pulsifer
---- — PLATTSBURGH — The home court can be a big advantage in the game of basketball, particularly in big games, late in the season.
With five home games remaining on the schedule, the Plattsburgh State women’s basketball team will be looking to take full advantage, starting tonight against Brockport followed by a matchup with Geneseo on Saturday.
The Cardinals (5-8 SUNYAC, 9-11) have had their struggles, losing four straight and seven of their last eight, but still can make a move in the conference standings and possibly secure a favorable seeding in the upcoming SUNY Athletic Conference tournament with a strong finish to the regular season.
“We can’t really be in a better place,” Plattsburgh coach Cheryl Cole said. “We knew we would be in this position, with our last five games at home. Now it’s just up to us to take advantage.”
After a strong start — one of the best in program history — the Cardinals have sputtered on both sides of the ball over the majority of the second half of the season. The theme, more times than not, has bee a strong start followed by a not-so-strong finish. Plattsburgh would like very much to change that trend, starting this weekend.
“We need to get back to doing what we do best, and that is play aggressive defense and rebound the basketball,” Cole said. “We’ve also been in a bit of a drought as far as our shooting. But we’ve had a good week of practice and I think this team understands what’s at stake and is ready to get this turned around.”
Plattsburgh continues to be led by Kathleen Payne and Brittany Marshall but will need a big effort from the balance of the roster as well in order to be successful down the homestretch. Payne is currently third in the conference in scoring, averaging 14.5 points poer game, and Marshall is 12 overall at 10.8 and second in the league in assists with 4.4 a game.
This weekend’s first opponent Brockport (3-11, 6-15) is led by Cecilia Sigrist, averaging 10 ppg. The Cardinals defeated the Golden Eagles 72-63 in a hard-fought matchup at Brockport on Jan. 12. The Cardinals will be looking to complete a much-needed season sweep of the Golden Eagles this evening.
Saturday’s opponent, Geneseo, is arguably the hottest team in the conference. The Blue Knights (11-3 SUNYAC, 15-5) have won six of their last seven games including a very impressive 73-43 rout of conference-leading New Paltz on Jan. 25. Shannon McGinniss (12.4 ppg and 8.5 rebounds per game), Melissa Graham (12.0, 7.5) and Allison McKenna (10.9, 7.6) are all in the midst of outstanding seasons for Geneseo.
The Blue Knights outlasted
the Cardinals 77-68 at Geneseo on Jan. 11.