The Ithaca College women’s basketball team defeated the SUNY Polytechnic Institute Wildcats by a score of 68–58 to advance to the second round of the Division III NCAA tournament March 1 in Ben Light Gymnasium.
It was a fast-paced contest from the start. Both teams were trading baskets, with the Bombers owning the lead by three points or fewer for most of the first quarter. Sophomore guard Grace Cannon made her impact felt in the quarter, and ultimately throughout the entire game. Cannon finished with a game-high 21 points as well as 6 rebounds and 4 steals. At the end of the first quarter it was the Blue and Gold up 17–13.
The second quarter was just as tightly contested as both teams were forcing frequent turnovers. SUNY Poly netted eight points off of turnovers, while the South Hill squad had 11. Cannon continued to produce for the Bombers, sinking a total of 11 points during the half. The Wildcats were led by junior guards Kiersten Leos and Taylor Aybar who each earned 10 points.
The third quarter was when the Bombers made their biggest run, scoring 14 points to the Wildcats’ one over six minutes. The South Hill squad used their powerful defense to cause problems for the Wildcats. SUNY Poly head coach Jessica Skelton said that this was a major factor in his team’s loss.
“Their defensive pressure got to us,” Skelton said. “We hadn’t seen that type of pressure all year.”
In the third quarter, junior forward Cassidy O’Malley started to find her rhythm. She only had two points in the first half, but finished the third quarter with twelve. Head coach Dan Raymond said that the third quarter was a turning point for the team as a whole.
“[In the third quarter] we pressed immediately,” Raymond said. “Our team did a great job with that.”
The Blue and Gold outscored SUNY Poly 18-8 in the third and took a 16 point lead into the fourth.
The South Hill Squad’s lead was never fewer than eight points for the rest of the game. They closed out the contest strong, winning by ten. The Wildcats were lead by Leos who finished with 18 points and played all 40 minutes.
Cannon said that the team’s mentality allowed them to come out on top in the high-pressure match.
“We had a win or go home attitude tonight,” Cannon said. “It was all about staying confident and believing in one another.”
The Bombers will take on St. Joseph’s College of Maine at 5 p.m. March 2 in the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament in Ben Light Gymnasium.