The Plattsburgh State women’s basketball team started its SUNYAC play with two losses against two of the top three teams last year in SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Oneonta before extending its losing streak to three games after a loss to Middlebury College.

The Cardinals (3-4, 0-2) remained optimistic after their third straight loss.

“We’re really close,” head coach Cheryl Cole said after the 80-70 loss to Middlebury. “We’re playing well against a good team in the best conference in the country.”

The Middlebury Panthers now boast an undefeated record of 7-0 after their win against PSUC and plays in the New England Small College Athletic Conference, a league of three nationally ranked teams by d3hoops.com, while also receiving poll votes themselves.

Starting SUNYAC play with two losses didn’t sit well with junior guard Taylor Durnin, who led the team with 18 point on 60 percent shooting, but a good outing against the Panthers left her feeling upbeat.

“Going 0-2 didn’t really reflect who we are as a team,” Durnin said. “Today, we definitely played how we should, which helped build a lot of confidence in us. Middlebury is a great team.”

Durnin, Cole and senior Bella DePasquale pointed out that defense was a clear highpoint for the team.

“We improved defensively by great amounts,” DePasquale said, who scored 15 points on five three-pointers.

But transition defense in particular, was giving the Cards trouble.

“We got to stop giving free points away,” Cole said.

Multiple times throughout the game, after unsuccessfully attempting to secure an offensive rebound, two or sometimes three Cards would attempt to trap a Middlebury player or snag a steal, which let the Panthers set up offensively on the other end, leading to easy baskets after one or two passes.

PSUC was outrebounded 37-25. The Panther’s large lineup was too much for the Cards’ small-ball lineup, which gave up 21 offensive boards to Middlebury.

Despite falling short, the freshmen continued to impress with their play.

Guard Kayla Doody continued showcasing her playmaking ability with seven assists, while Kelly Degnan provided 12 points on good efficiency off the bench.

“[The freshman] compete, they make good decisions and they’re very talented,” Cole said. “They’re going to be a heck of a group when they’re older.”

Durnin and DePasquale also had praise for the freshmen after the game.

“They’re great.” Durnin said. “Freshmen enter with the stigma against them that they don’t know what they’re doing, but they’ve been really good so far.”

“[The freshmen] have picked up on so much so fast,” DePasquale said. “They haven’t strayed away from anything. I have all the confidence in the world in them.”

After three tough match-ups, the Cards will face the Golden Eagles of the College at Brockport (3-5, 1-1) tonight at 5:30 p.m. before traveling to No. 20 SUNY Geneseo (8-0, 2-0) tomorrow.

PSUC will then travel to Miami over the semester break to play in the Exclusive Invitational Dec. 19 and 20 against Babson College and Wesleyan University.

Email Fernando Alba at cp@cardinalpointsonline.com

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