By: Dylan O'Loughlin
Fredonia, NY --- The Brockport Golden Eagles women's basketball team traveled to Fredonia in a must-win game. The Blue Devils had other plans and made the season even more difficult for the Golden Eagles as they defeated Brockport 60-58.
Zoe Zutes (#15) led Brockport in scoring with 17 and Allie Wandell (#25) had 18 for Fredonia (Photo Credits: Liv Metz/Brockport Athletics)
The first half was a slow start for the Golden Eagles, the only players to show up were the bigs of Zoe Zutes and Zairea Hannah. Hannah had over half of the points for Brockport in the first quarter as she had nine points of their 17.
For Fredonia, it was the opposite. They were able to get scoring from everywhere including getting points in the paint and a three thanks to forward Allie Wendell and some limitless range triples from freshman Grace Alexander. Wandell led Fredonia with nine points at the half and Alexander had eight. The bigs of Brockport kept them in the game as Hannah had nine points and 10 rebounds at the half and Zutes had nine points to go along with her. At the end of the first 20 minutes of play, Brockport found themselves down eight 35-27. With the deficit, Brockport had to stick to the game plan.
"I mean quite frankly. we just got to run the same thing regardless of what they're playing," Brockport head coach Corrine Jones said. "We have to play our way and get to the spots we want to get to."
In the third, Brockport was able to find those spots, the culprit to most of the scoring being Stephanie Jean-Baptiste. After a first half where she only had two points off the bench, she was able to put up seven points in the third. Then, missed shots from Fredonia got Brockport back in the game. The Blue Devils shot 5-16 in the third quarter and most of the buckets came from Wandell with Alexander on the bench for a breather. Wandell got seven more in the quarter to give her 16 points so far in the game. Brockport had a three-point lead heading into the fourth, 50-47.
Stephanie Jean-Baptiste finished with 11 points and nine rebounds in the loss to Fredonia (Photo Credits: Liv Metz/Brockport Athletics)
In the fourth, both teams left everything on the floor. In a highly defensive quarter, Brockport committed five turnovers and Fredonia committed seven after having only five through three quarters. WIth the turnovers, Brockport could not capitalize as each team were trading buckets. Alexander took over the game for the Blue Devils as she got six of their 11 points in the quarter. She finished with 19 points which led all scorers and with her play, she kept Fredonia in the lead and only helped her case for SUNYAC Rookie of the Year.
The game was far from over though. After Fredonia freshman Payton Gilbert split a pair at the charity stripe, Brockport found themselves down four with 10 seconds left. Coming out of the timeout call by Jones, they designed the play to give it to the best shooter on the team and the best three-point shooter in the SUNYAC Zutes, and she delivered. Zutes knocked down a three from the top of the key to cut the lead to one 59-58, giving her 17 on the day and nine rebounds to go along with it.
"I had confidence," Zutes said. "Everybody's been telling me to put it up. I think being able to see that I was the number one shooter in the conference going into today kind of fueled me."
The Golden Eagles would then foul again, this time Caitlin Snyder headed to the line, and she made the first and missed the second. With no timeouts, Brockport had to throw a full-court heave with one second left and it was short. It was a critical loss in a game they needed to have.
"At this point I think we are pretty desperate for a win," Zutes said. "And if we don't rally together as a team and play team ball and no selfish type of basketball, I think we can turn it around. We got eight games left until the tournament, so if we don't do it now, we won't have the opportunity to do it then. Everybody got to lock in, get their head out of their butts, and pick it up."
The Blue Devils get a much-needed win keeping their playoff hopes alive improving to 8-8 on the season and 3-6 in conference play. The Golden Eagles on the other hand still sit sixth in the SUNYAC standings and in the last spot of the playoffs with an 8-9 record and 4-6 record in SUNYAC play. They'll go back home to the Vlog to play the Potsdam Bears, a team they lost to just a few weeks ago, this Friday, January 26th at 5:30 pm.