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Women's basketball looks for a season rebound

by Paul Cifonelli - Staff Writer
Wed, Feb 13th 2019 02:00 pm
Sophomore guard Zaria McCullough defends the New Paltz opponent at the top of the offensive zone while her teammates become collected behind her.
Sophomore guard Zaria McCullough defends the New Paltz opponent at the top of the offensive zone while her teammates become collected behind her.
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Stuck in a tight race for the final spots in the SUNYAC tournament, The College at Brockport women’s basketball team has stayed present this season despite sporting the youngest roster in the league. Entering this past Saturday’s game at Geneseo with a league record of 6—8, every game left in the regular season holds immense importance.

The match at Geneseo would prove to be tough as the Knights entered the game in second place in the conference. From the first play of the game, Geneseo used its balanced scoring to break down Brockport. The Knights ended the first quarter on a 14-3 run to take the lead. They did not look back either as the lead grew to as big as 14, twice, during the second quarter. Down 11 at halftime, the Golden Eagles were unable to put anything together coming out of halftime, losing the third quarter 20-5. Despite a run in the fourth quarter, the Golden Eagles still dropped the contest 68-49.

Even though the team was unable to put a win together, sophomore guard Julianna Taylor has been on a bit of a tear the last two games. Taylor is 7-8 on three pointers in the last two games, including 5-6 against Geneseo. The five made threes is a career high for her and accounts for over a third of her made threes on the season. Taylor said that she has been working on her shooting recently and she is finally seeing results.

“I have been working on my outside shot lately to be more of a threat on the court,” Taylor said. “I really wanted to be harder to guard and create opportunities for my other teammates as well.”

While Taylor has been stepping up when the team needs it most, some of the inexperience on the roster is beginning to show. Six of the 11 players to log minutes against Geneseo were freshman, all combining to score 17 points in the contest.

Sitting in seventh place and a half game out of a playoff spot, Brockport is officially in the do-or-die moments of the season. The freshmen have been forced into an unfamiliar situation of transitioning into the rugged SUNYACs on the fly. Freshman forward Kylee Rosbrook said the team has acknowledged that it will experience growing pains throughout the season.

“We try not to use our youth as an excuse, but it is something we are aware of,” Rosbrook said. “We just try to compete every game and grow from each experience.”

As the season has progressed, any returning player has had to step up as a leader. Junior Bailey Pratt, who leads the team in made three pointers and is tied for second in scoring, has stepped up not only on the court but also in the locker room. Pratt has had to learn how to be a vocal leader on the fly, similar to the freshmen learning to play at the college level.

“I think from the very beginning it was very important for all the returners to step up in the ways that they could to help teach the freshmen how the program works and what we value,” Pratt said. “I have definitely developed into a more vocal leader on and off the court and worked closely with coach [Corrinne Jones] and the other upperclassmen to make sure we are all on the same page.”

In her third year running the SUNYAC gauntlet, Pratt knows that this experience will help the freshmen prepare for the big games next season.

“They [the freshmen] are learning so much about how the SUNYACs work and what it feels like to play in high intensity games down the stretch, so next year they will be more confident and comfortable with themselves and our program,” Pratt said.

Despite the growing pains, Brockport is within striking distance of a decent seed in the SUNYAC tournament. Just three and a half games separate the current number four seed and number nine seed. The Golden Eagles are only two games back of the four seed.

The Golden Eagles wrap up regular season play this week. They host Geneseo on Tuesday, Feb. 12 to close out the home-and-home series with the Knights. Friday, Feb. 15 is the annual “Play 4 Kay” game. Brockport hosts Oswego for that contest. 

Saturday, Feb. 16 is the women’s senior night, which will see Brockport host Cortland. The Golden Eagles would realistically need to win two out of the three games in order to secure itself a spot in the SUNYAC tournament without any major upsets occurring within the conference.