OSWEGO, N.Y. – In a contest that saw more rebounds than points, a pair of free throws by senior Kassie Kleine (Cazenovia, N.Y.) sealed a 38-35 victory for the Oswego State women’s basketball team (18-8) over Cortland (11-14) in the first round of the State University of New York Athletic Conference Tournament Tuesday night at Max Ziel Gymnasium.
The win marked the first SUNYAC Tournament win for the Lakers since the 2006-07 season.
Kleine hit both ends of a 1-and-1 with 7.4 seconds to put the Lakers up by three points, but the game was not decided until Evelyn Josbena (Sr., Solvay, N.Y.) blocked a Red Dragon trey from the baseline and came down with the pivotal board as time expired.
Josbena finished the game with six points, 12 rebounds, four blocks and two steals, while holding Cortland’s leading scorer, Megan Touhey, to four points compared to her season average of nearly 13. Meagan Stover (Sr., Lake George, N.Y.) and Jenn Robbins (Jr., Geneva, N.Y.) paced the balanced Laker attack with seven points each. Grace Williamson recorded a double-double for Cortland with 12 points and 10 boards.
Oswego State’s Lauren Nunziato (Jr., West Sand Lake, N.Y.), Kleine and Robbins drained back-to-back-to-back treys early in the first half to open up a 17-10 lead for the home team. Both defenses caused problems for the opposition as the lone basket for nearly an eight-minute stretch came from Laker Paula Egelston (Jr., Fultonville, N.Y.) to make the score 19-12. However, the Red Dragons closed out the frame with five straight points to put Oswego State in front, 20-17, at halftime despite 15 Laker turnovers.
Cortland’s momentum carried over into the second half, as Caysea Cohen’s three-pointer five minutes into the stanza evened the score at 22. The squads combined to score three points over the next seven-plus minutes until Robbins made a lay-up and converted two free throws to give Oswego State a 27-24 edge with 6:21 remaining in regulation.
The Lakers pushed the lead to five points with four minutes to play, but Williamson and Erin Wolstenholme scored on consecutive possessions to cut the deficit to one. Williamson then tied the game on a lay-up with 53 seconds remaining. Oswego State turned the ball over its next trip up the court, but Cortland was unable to gain the lead as Josbena was fouled when she came down with the ensuing rebound.
Josbena made the front end of the 1-and-1 to give the Lakers a slim one-point lead with 24.4 seconds on the clock. The Red Dragons hauled in the defensive board for the final possession, but a loose-ball foul was called on Oswego State with 9.2 seconds to go. Cortland missed the front end of the 1-and-1 with Kleine grabbing the rebound, and being fouled immediately. She made both free throws with 7.2 seconds on the scoreboard to push the score to 38-35.
The Red Dragons raced the ball up the floor for one last chance, but Josbena blocked the Cortland shot from the left baseline corner from behind the arc for the victory.
The Lakers committed 25 turnovers with the Red Dragons recording 18 steals, but the home team owned a 50-35 advantage in rebounding as Cortland shot 20.0 percent from the field (12-for-60), 13.6 percent from three-point range (3-for-22) and 66.7 percent from the free-throw line.
Oswego State ended the game shooting 25.0 percent from the field (11-for-44), 19.2 percent from downtown (5-for-26), and 78.6 percent from the charity stripe (11-for-14).
The Lakers will face No. 2-seed Geneseo in a SUNYAC semifinal on Friday, at 6 p.m. in New Paltz. During the regular season, the series split as the Blue Knights won the first contest, 64-44, and Oswego State prevailed in the rematch, 59-54.