The women’s basketball team (5—0) came through with some late-game heroics to defeat rival SUNY-Cortland (4—1) 85-77 in overtime tonight in Ben Light Gymnasium.
Junior forward Devin Shea had a huge night for the Blue and Gold, posting career-best totals of 30 points and 15 rebounds to lead the team. Shea was unstoppable in the paint, going 12 for 16 from the floor while adding three assists, two blocks and two steals.
The Bombers were on the ropes late, as they trailed the Red Dragons 73-71 when sophomore forward Jennifer Escobido put in a rebound off a missed shot by Shea to tie the game at 73 with 10 seconds remaining. Cortland ran the length of the floor on the ensuing possession and tried to force senior guard Jessica Farley to commit a blocking foul. Farley kept her position however, and forced a Red Dragon turnover to send the game into overtime.
Cortland took an early lead in the extra period with a pair of free throws from senior guard Molly Byrne. Shea countered with a layup inside on the next possession to tie the game for the Bombers, and Farley followed with a three-point dagger to give the South Hill squad the lead. The Blue and Gold would maintain the lead from that point on, as Shea made another layup and senior guard Jacqueline Shinall collected six points in the closing minutes.
Farley said her team remained focused down the stretch when the emotions ran high in the rivalry game’s final minutes.
“We really kept our cool,” she said. “Cortland focused a little more on the refs and we just played our game.”
The Bombers jumped out to a commanding 17-3 lead to start the contest and didn’t allow a Cortland basket until the sixth minute of the game. That’s when Cortland junior guard Katrina Davenport made the first of the team’s eight first half three-pointers that enabled the Red Dragons to claw back into the game and trail by only a point by halftime.
Cortland Head Coach Jeanette Mosher said her team leaned too heavily on the three-point shot even though it allowed her team to come back in the first half.
“Unfortunately I thought we lived and died by the three point shot,” Mosher said. “We needed to establish an inside-outside game and we didn’t do that.”
Shinall said the Bombers were able to do a better job defending the perimeter after making some halftime adjustments.
“They’re good shooters so they scored a lot of their points outside,” Shinall said. “In the first half we were trying to hedge and go through, and in the second half we were able to switch and get our hands up.”
This was the second straight season the Bombers faced a Cortland team that was undefeated. Farley said a win over a quality opponent like the Red Dragons should boost the Blue and Gold to higher levels of play going forward.
“I think this really raises our confidence knowing that we can play with a top-ranked team,” Farley said. “It reassures us that we can hang with any team.”
The Bombers can equal their best start in the program’s history with a win over an up-and-coming St. Lawrence University squad in their next game. The two teams will tip off at 6 p.m. Friday in Ben Light Gymnasium.