For the first time in program history, the Women’s Basketball team will be hosting the SUNYAC Women’s Basketball Tournament as the No. 1 seed in the conference.
With a 16-2 conference record and ending the season 22-3 overall, the Lady Hawks are positioned to host SUNYAC rival and No. 5 seed SUNY Plattsburgh on Friday, Feb. 22 in the Athletic and Wellness Center at 8 p.m. With the No. 1 seed secured, the team earned a first round bye and automatically have a spot in the semifinals.
Head Coach Jamie Seward said the balance on the team’s roster this season has made them successful against their competitors.
“We have a team that’s very versatile and able to play many different roles,” Seward said. “Another team can’t just come into a game and stop our set up person, because other players on the team are able to successfully do that too. We’re tough to beat because of our balance.”
Fourth-year Co-captain Kahsyrah Bryant said the team is currently saving their energy for Friday’s game, and is trying to keep from over exertion during practices.
“Right now the pressure isn’t on us too much,” Bryant said. “We’re going to have the home-court advantage during the tournament and the crowd is going to put all of the pressure on our opponents.”
In the past, the team has had to travel to the western region of New York State for the conference tournament. Seward said while most of their competitors had to travel at least an hour to get to the tournament, the Lady Hawks would have to travel four to five hours to compete, and the distance could stifle the momentum.
Now that the tournament is at home, the momentum is in the Hawks’ favor.
“I think not only will the lack of traveling help us out, but having the home crowd on our side is going to be a game changer,” Seward said. “Everyone is going to have to travel four to five hours to go up against us and our crowd is going to be able to keep the momentum going throughout the whole game, not just when we’re doing well but when we’re at a low too.”
Fourth-year Co-captain Maliqua Fisher also said the home crowd will be able to intimidate opponents during the tournament and will provide an extra boost of energy for the team.
“The fans who sit in the top level of the stands, ‘The Hawk’s Nest,’ come out to every game at home and are extremely supportive of us and are going to bring the energy to the court,” Fisher said. “I think they’ll bring a valuable energy to the game.”
The Lady Hawks have defeated Plattsburgh during both conference match-ups this season, beating the Lady Cardinals 75-71 on Jan. 18 and 72-60 on Feb. 2. Plattsburgh is on a hot streak right now however, having won six games in a row and defeating No. 4 seed SUNY Oneonta on the Red Dragons’ home court.
Seward said even though the Hawks have beaten the Cardinals twice this season, they’re a tough competitor that the Hawks are preparing themselves for.
“They probably have the best point guard in the league and they’ve been playing playoff games the past couple of weeks,” Seward said. “They’re a dangerous team to go up against and they are playing with urgency. I’m confident in our team, but we have to go out and earn it.”
Fisher said that even though Plattsburgh is on a hot streak, the Lady Hawks’ hatred of losing is what will make a difference in Friday’s game.
“We’re a team that really hates to lose,” Fisher said. “It’s something we can’t stand and we don’t want to let happen to us. We’re going to be ready to go on Friday.”