Head Coach Ben Sarraf (front) and Assistant Keith Wasberg (far left) address the team mid-game at Memorial Gym Dec. 6.
By Michael Purtell
The Plattsburgh State women’s basketball team hit a three-game losing streak to end the first semester of its season. The Cardinals (3-5, 0-2) lost 42-73 at home against the Middlebury Panthers (5-4) Wednesday, Dec 6.
The loss comes after the first conference weekend of the season, where Plattsburgh lost to Cortland 53-79 Dec. 1 and Oswego 54-70 Dec. 2.
The 42 points is the least scored by Plattsburgh this season. It’s the second game in which it failed to score 50.
Center Imani Walcott led the team in points with 11 and steals with five. She also had the highest field goal percentage on the team, making 5-10 of her shots. She added six rebounds and two steals as well.
Guard/forward Payton Couture, Plattsburgh’s second-highest scorer, had 10 points — five came in the last 1:46 of the second quarter. She led the team in boards with eight.
Guard Julia Greek was subbed in with 1:22 left in the first quarter, and immediately drained a three. She stayed hot from deep and hit all three of her attempts in the game. She was limited to 12 minutes, as she was sent to the bench with a limp after a layup attempt through contact. She was later seen in a medical boot.
Panther guard Alexa Mustafaj led the game in scoring with 27 points, including her team’s first 14. In the second quarter, Plattsburgh guard Mya Smith was given the defensive assignment.
Ady Darnold holds the rock away from her body, attempting to create space on a Panther defender at Memorial Gym Dec. 6.
“Smith’s effort on defense was great on [Mustafaj] once we switched her onto that in the second quarter. We executed as well as we could defensively in terms of the plays that they ran,” Head Coach Ben Sarraf said.
Mustafaj was limited to just five points in the second and six in the third.
The Panthers’ win was bolstered by its rebounding effort. It led in offensive rebounds 17-7 and defensive rebounds 35-26.
This led to an advantage on second chance points totaling 14-8.
“They just did a good job crashing the boards,” Couture said. “Even their point guard was coming in and crashing in places you didn’t expect.”
Panthers starting guard Augusta Dixon had 14 rebounds in the game.
The Cardinals struggled to match the Panthers in hustle stats. The Cards had three fastbreak points compared to the Panthers’ eight. Sarraf attributed the deficit to the Panthers’ ability to fill outlet passing lanes and pick off long passes.
In the turnover column, Middlebury created 14 points off of 20 Plattsburgh turnovers, while only allowing five points for Plattsburgh off of 12 Middlebury turnovers.
Winter break will give the players a month of rest. Plattsburgh’s next game won’t come until it hosts conference opponent Fredonia Jan 5, 2024.
The team will look to improve its record in the second semester of the season, but won’t be able to rely on team practice to do so. The Cards will be unable to practice from Dec. 9 to the start of January 2024. It will be up to the athletes to put in their own work in the meantime, Sarraf said.
“The teams that do the best out of that winter break are the teams that do the best job putting in work when no one’s looking,” Sarraf said. “They know what they need to do.”
Walcott set her own plans to come back better.
“I’ll definitely be lifting and playing pickup basketball a lot,” Walcott said. “Going over plays and watching other teams that we’re going to be playing in the future.”