Imani Walcott snags a rebound over a Bobcat Nov. 17. Walcott leads the team in rebounds per game, 9.0 and blocks, 1.6.
By Jayson Gaston
Coming into the annual Cardinal Classic, the Plattsburgh Cardinals women’s basketball team looked to continue its strong start to the season with wins on its new home floor. The games against the Bates Bobcats and the Vermont State University-Castleton Spartans Nov. 17 and Nov. 18 respectively were the home openers for the Cardinals on the newly renovated Memorial Gym floor.
In its first game of the weekend, the Cardinals lost to a tough opponent in Bates College 49-59. Both teams came out strong in the first quarter with the Cardinals and the Bobcats going bucket-for-bucket early on. There were four ties in the quarter and Bobcats went into the second with a two-point lead.
In the second quarter, the Cardinals looked to build a lead. The team scored six points after an and-one layup from Cardinals center Imani Walcott.
Despite the strong start, Bates battled back eventually regaining a one-point lead going into the half. The Bobcats took control of the game from the start of the third forward. Bates scored seven straight at the start of the third which paired with the team’s suffocating defense allowed it to increase the lead.
The Bobcats executed a strong full-court trap which caused the Cardinals to have trouble bringing up the ball and getting into their offense. The Cardinals put up only seven points in the third. The Cardinals started the fourth quarter strong with scores from Walcott and point guard Julia Greek. With a 7-0 run the Cardinals cut the lead to two, but it wasn’t enough. The Bobcats went on a 10-0 run to seal the victory at the end of the fourth.
Payton Couture faces aggressive trap defense from Bates College shortly after receiving the inbound pass Nov. 17.
In the second game of the weekend, Plattsburgh was not able to split the game as it lost to the Spartans 65-69. The Cardinals looked strong to start the game, jumping ahead to an impressive 11-0 lead. The team held control through the fist as it went into the second leading 17-10. The Spartans came out aggressive in the second however scoring 20 points in the second to the Cardinals’ 12. It held a 30-29 lead at the half.
To start the second half the Cardinals again had a rough third quarter. The Spartan’s strong defense caused the Cardinals to commit turnovers resulting in easy points for the Spartans. After being outscored 20-9 in the quarter the Cardinals trailed by 12 going into the fourth.
In the fourth quarter, the Cardinals began to regain momentum. Cardinals forward Payton Couture poured in two straight scores to start the quarter. Points from Greek and guard Kathy Peterson-Ross cut the lead to six and the Cardinals were in striking distance.
Despite eventually cutting the lead to one possession, the Cardinals failed to complete the comeback as the Spartans sealed the game with free throws.
Regardless of the back-to-back losses, Couture, who scored 20 points and grabbed nine boards Saturday, was proud of her team’s performance.
“They were good competitors and it’s not a bad thing we lost,” Payton said.“Obviously, we wanted to win but we learned a lot and can use that moving forward into our SUNYAC play.”
Head Coach Ben Sarraf was pleased with how the team performed but noted the up-and-down struggles the teams faced.
“We started the game off great, but there’s gonna be adjustments throughout the game,” Sarraf said. “We were effective in our press. Our offense was effective because we were forcing turnovers. Castelton settles, they adjust. They end up getting a lead because of our mental lapse, we adjust and go small.”
After being a strong contributor to the Cardinals’ attempts to come back in the fourth quarter of both games, Walcott commented on her approach to the games.
“I wasn’t really looking at the score,” Walcott said. “I feel like when people look at the score, it’s supposed to bring you down, but I was just playing hard and my family was here. It felt really good.”
Additional reporting by Kiyanna Noel