After their third consecutive loss, the Cardinals are trying to get back on track.

Their second consecutive away game was Feb. 7 against New Paltz, when they lost by eight points.

Of the 66 points scored by the Cards, 50 of them were from three players: junior forward Devona Paul, senior guard Brittany Marshall and junior transfer Allie Taylor. Head coach Cheryl Cole described the trio as the team’s “most potent offensive weapons.”

Even with the star players on the court, Cole said the last two games were slow starts for the team, and although they played great in both second halves, it was hard to recover.

Cole said she hopes getting off to better starts will be the key to winning upcoming games.

The team knows their opponents will double-up on Paul and put pressure on Marshall, so Cole said she believes it is important for the other players to spend a lot of time on practicing filling in the space and get in the other team’s way.

“We always say, ‘Don’t take the first shot, take the best shot,’ and that might not necessarily be one of those top three because if they’re over-defending them or over-helping them, then someone else can be open,” Cole said.

Cole said that while her team has played great in some games and not-so-great in others, she believes a main reason for their inconsistency has to do with staying focused, especially when it comes to away games.

“It’s hard to beat anybody on their home floor,” Cole said.

Marshall said playing games anywhere but home provides a discomfort.

“When you practice every day in your gym, you know how the rooms are, you just know everything about it,” Marshall said. “You go somewhere else, and it just feels different.”

Besides being out of a normal routine, players have to try to kill time in the hotel or on the bus, and they don’t have the same support.

“The crowd plays a big part in it, I think,” Marshall said. “Just knowing someone is there to have your back is a big part of it.”

Cole said her goals for the team are to make it to the tournament, and once they get there, to defend their championship title.

“Everybody wants to beat us, so there are no nights off for us,” Cole said.

After looking at footage from their Jan. 17 game against Cortland, Cole said she thought it was a great game, but at the end, there were turnovers that allowed for Cortland’s best player, Brittney Dumas, to hit some big shots.

Now that they are going to face Cortland again Friday, Cole said they’re going to make adjustments to their defense and try to keep the ball out of Dumas’ hands as much as possible.

To beat Cortland the Cards need to contain Dumas, who has averaged 8.9 rebounds and 18.4 points per game and has 37 assists, which is third on the team.

Cole said she believes that the Cards will be able to match up with the Cortland team, but they need to keep their heads in the game.

“I like our chances,” Cole said. “We’re not as talented as we were last year, but it doesn’t mean we can’t be as successful in the end.”

Email Amanda Velez at web@cardinalpointsonline.com.

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