The Plattsburgh State women’s basketball team heads into its final weekend of the season against conference opponents SUNY New Paltz and Oneonta, with an overall record of 10-13 (6-10 in conference). Following a tough-fought game against Middlebury Tuesday night which the Cardinals lost 59-54, PSUC will aim to take that energy and bring it into its final regular season series.
“Honestly, with Tuesday’s game having been nonconference this late in the season, it didn’t have too much of a bearing on what we did this week to prepare for the weekend,” associate head coach Ben Sarraf said. “If we get these two wins, we’re going to need a little bit of help from other teams, but there is a chance we get in the tournament. These games are huge, and hopefully we can compete and end in a positive way.”
The Cards have endured a season full of ups-and-downs with the freshmen-filled roster which resulted in missed opportunities earlier in the season which brings them to be in the situation they are in now – which is on the brink of either ending or continuing their season.
“We let a couple opportunities slip both early and late in the season, so we easily could’ve been 8-8 heading into the weekend instead of 6-10 (in conference),” Sarraf said. “We’ve dedicated a lot of time to learning and teaching (the young roster). It’s been a lot different this year preparing for games like this, compared to the past three years when we had a lot of experience on the roster.”
PSUC lost both its previous meetings against these upcoming opponents. Both losses presented the team with a lot to improve upon in order to redeem itself the next time they faced off.
“The first time we played both of those teams, rebounding was probably the biggest issue,” Sarraf said. “We worked a lot on how we’re going to rebound, particularly on free throws. We gave up seven offensive rebounds on free throws, which is pretty much as bad as it gets because it gave the other team an extra seven possessions.”
Freshman forward Taylor Clare also pointed out how important rebounding is, as well as playing against zone defense.
“We’re especially working on rebounding because it has hurt us a lot this season,” Clare said. “Both teams will be playing zone this weekend which is something we’ve struggled with throughout the season because we haven’t seen it that much.”
Looking forward, these two games could potentially be the final two games of the season for PSUC. With that in mind, the Cards will give everything they have in order to have a chance at saving their season.
“We have to win them, that’s how important these games are,” senior guard Jax Miller said. “We just have to prepare ourselves in our game. How well we play and how well we execute the fundamentals is what it all comes down to.”
Miller is one of the two seniors on the team this year, which caused some concern for the senior headed into the season due to the amount of newcomers this year.
“I definitely didn’t know what to expect coming into the season,” Miller said. “It definitely made me step up as a leader for them. Being one of the two seniors on the team, it was definitely a challenge in the beginning, but I couldn’t have asked for a better senior year with a better group of girls.”
Clare has learned a lot from seniors Miller and Moe Jones in her first season with PSUC.
“Even though we didn’t have that many upperclassmen to lead us, Jax and Moe has done a great job leading us,” Clare said. “Not only did they help us, but they learned from us as well.”
In order to make the SUNYAC playoffs, it all starts with the Cards securing these two games. Then, it will be out of their control afterwards, leaving it up to Brockport and Oswego to lose their games so that PSUC can secure the final playoff spot.
“Even though it depends on other teams’ outcomes, we just need to focus on ourselves first,” Clare said. “If we don’t get it done, then there is no reason to bank on what happens with other teams.”
The Cards will travel to New Paltz tonight for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff, then will travel to Oneonta for a 4 p.m. tipoff Saturday.
“It could possibly be the last two games of my career, so I hope to go out with two wins this weekend,” Miller said.
Email Ezra Kachaturian at firstname.lastname@example.org