Geneseo takes down Fredonia in battle of unbeatens, 69-55

OBSERVER Photo by Ron Szot Fredonia’s Khee Nance (4) drives to the basket against Geneseo’s Kayleigh Cavanaugh (3) during Tuesday’s SUNYAC women’s college basketball game at the Steele Hall Fieldhouse.

Tied 25-all heading into the third quarter, Geneseo (12-0, 6-0) was able to pull away from Fredonia (11-2, 6-1), 69-55, for a key SUNYAC women’s basketball win Tuesday night at the Steele Hall Fieldhouse.

“I thought we came out of the locker room flat,” Fredonia head coach Linda Hill-MacDonald said. “And we didn’t execute the way we needed to in that third quarter and (Geneseo) went on a little run and we didn’t get it stopped soon enough. So we weren’t scoring and they were and it kind of snowballed on us.”

After six lead changes over the first 4:30 of the third quarter, the Knights were able to string together a 13-4 run to take a 43-35 lead with 2:03 remaining, as Katie Durand scored eight of her team-high 23 points — including a buzzer-beating layup at the end of the frame to give Geneseo its biggest lead of the night, 47-37.

“She did a nice job (Tuesday) picking her spots to put pressure on the defense,” Geneseo head coach Scott Hemer said of Durand. “When she’s aggressive coming off screens, she’s tough to keep in front of you one-on-one. She really stepped up for us in some critical moments.”

Kayleigh Cavanaugh opened the fourth quarter with a traditional three-point play for the Knights, pushing their lead to 50-43. Cavanaugh’s ability to get to the rim and draw the foul was a theme all night for Geneseo, and something Hill-MacDonald knows her team is going to have to limit when these two teams meet again on Saturday.

OBSERVER Photo by Ron Szot Fredonia’s Jamie Curry (43) works inside against Geneseo’s Katie Vinneau (22) during Tuesday’s SUNYAC women’s college basketball game at the Steele Hall Fieldhouse.

“(Geneseo) was getting to the basket at will off the bounce,” Hill-MacDonald said. “I think it just boosted their confidence and kind of deflated us.

“We just couldn’t stop the drive,” Hill-MacDonald added. “And we didn’t help early enough and we didn’t box out. They were getting second and third possessions, and to me, those were real key things that we didn’t do well.”

The Knights’ biggest lead of 18 came early in the fourth quarter and the rest of the game was a mere formality, as Geneseo remained undefeated on the year.

“In the second half we just played harder,” Hemer said. “We didn’t change who we were or what we were doing, we just picked up the intensity level and the tempo a little bit. When you put pressure on somebody else, like they did to us in the first half, you end up with a little bit better production when it comes to scoring.”

The Blue Devils, who came into the game averaging 76.4 points per game, and shooting 41.2 percent from the field, finished the game at just 33.3 percent — 17 of 51 — while going 6 of 19 behind the arc.

“(Geneseo) is an excellent defensive team,” Hill-MacDonald said. “And we played scared. We really backed away from pressure, from the ball being denied, a little bit of physicality and we let it shut us down, instead of being bold and attacking.”

Jenna Einink (Westfield/Chautauqua Lake), the Blue Devils’ leading scorer, was held to just six points Tuesday night, well below her average of 16.7. But Hill-MacDonald knows it was not a lack of effort on Einink’s part.

“Jenna has to get help from the perimeter,” Hill-MacDonald said. “She had four (defenders) on her all night, so other people had to step up. Our perimeter play has to improve. Our perimeter players need to score and that will open it up for Jenna and she won’t end up with six points. But when a team can jam in on our best post player, because we’re not shooting the ball, looking to shoot the ball, or hitting shots, that creates problems for her. And in now way shape or form is this result because Jenna only had six points. This result is because our team didn’t do what they needed to do as a team.”

Picking up some of the slack was Alexis Cheatham, who had a team-high 23 points, including 6 of 9 from beyond the arc. But it wasn’t nearly enough, as the Blue Devils dropped the chance to put a firm grasp on first place in the SUNYAC.

“She was covered up pretty well (Tuesday), too,” Hill-MacDonald said of Cheatham. “She had to work for every single one of those points. I don’t think she took a 3-pointer that wasn’t contested and I don’t think she could have done anymore than she did. Somebody else needed to step up.

“We can’t ask for it all to come from Jenna and we can’t ask for all of it to come from Alexis,” Hill-MacDonald added of her team’s scoring. “The scoring needs to be distributed and it wasn’t (Tuesday).”

The Knights opened the game outscoring the Blue Devils, 14-11, in the first quarter, before Fredonia returned the favor and was able to tie the game 25-all, thanks in part to a 13-5 run to close the quarter.

“They’ve got a pretty good sense of themselves,” Hill-MacDonald said of her team. “I don’t like saying that losing is a wake-up call, because they’re very motivated. And it’s not like they needed a wake-up call to get to where they need to go, because they’re very motivated. They just need to continue to improve and take this and learn from it and move on. We have to move on from this, we have a game in three days.”

Fredonia will have a chance to right the ship on Friday when it hosts Brockport at 7:30 p.m. It will also have a chance at redemption when it travels to Geneseo for a rematch with the Knights. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.

“There are definitely some things that we need to work on that didn’t come up to the standard that we need to be doing,” Hill-MacDonald said. “There were a lot of things that were uncharacteristic (Tuesday). In our shooting especially — our ability to score the ball — that was very uncharacteristic of us to have a score that low.”

NOTES: Durand added five rebounds and two steals to go with her 23 points… Katie Vienneau chipped in 11 points and a team-high nine rebounds for the Knights… Jacque Law had 10 points, a game-high 11 rebounds and two steals in the loss… Khee Nance (Dunkirk) had four points and six rebounds for the Blue Devils, who were out-rebounded, 39-36, on the night… Fredonia committed 18 turnovers to Geneseo’s 10.