By: Liam Hoffmann
Brockport, NY-- Friday night, the Brockport Golden Eagles beat the Cortland Red Dragons for the first time since Feb. 19, 2019. It was Play4Kay night in Brockport, honoring the late great Kay Yow. After Cortland scored the first basket, Brockport later established a double-digit advantage in the first quarter and led for the rest of the game. Brockport got the win 84-80.
"We talked about slaying," Brockport Golden Eagles head coach Corrine Jones said. "We slayed cancer, we played for something bigger, and we slayed the Dragons."
Stephanie Jean-Baptiste led the Golden Eagles in scoring, rebounding, and steals with 24 points, 12 boards, and three steals. She was tied with Hali Lucia and Mandy Brink for the team lead in assists as well. They each recorded three. Zoe Zutes recorded 17 points and a team-high three blocks in the contest. With that, Zutes moved into second place in all-time blocks recorded in the Brockport Golden Eagles women's basketball program. She has 110 in her Brockport career.
"It means a lot," Zutes said. "Honestly, I was never really an offensive player before the spring semester. So, I mean, I thrive off of defense and defense fuels my offense. I'm glad to be up there with the greats."
With 21 points, Logan Streety led the Red Dragons in scoring, while also recording three steals and eight rebounds which were both team-high marks. Kaeli McAnally had five assists that led Cortland and added 13 points to go along with it.
Brockport got out to a fast start. Cortland opted for a full-court press defense in the early stages, but Brockport had their number. With the Golden Eagles' pace, they were able to continually beat the press and generate quality shot opportunities. This press was seen a few more times throughout the game but they didn't stick with it for the duration of the first half. While lots of Brockport's offense came in transition, when they did play offense in the half-court, they leaned on the size advantage provided by Zairea Hannah.
"This game was about her defending herself," Jones said. "So, if she could just come out there and do her, we would be fine, and she did that."
It was clear from the tip-off that Cortland wanted to move the ball around and take and make three-pointers. Brockport and Cortland each hit 11 threes in the contest, but Brockport at a much more efficient clip. The Golden Eagles shot just 20 threes while the Red Dragons attempted 36. McAnally accounted for 11 of those Cortland tries, converting on three of them.
At the end of quarter one, Brockport led 24-18. In the first three minutes of the second, Brockport's defense forced four turnovers, two of which were given up by Jackie Funk. The offense generated on the other end by the Golden Eagles did not slow down from quarter one to two. Jean-Baptiste was the primary offensive driver for Brockport in the period, scoring at all three levels, shooting off the dribble plus getting to the cup. When Cortland head coach Colleen Ames took a timeout with four minutes left in the first half, they trailed 38-25.
At the halfway point, Brockport was in the driver's seat up 46-33. The second half was much more competitive than the first, though. Cortland continued to emphasize ball movement and the three, but were more balanced as an offense, sprinkling in more inside shots. The Golden Eagles' defense missed several assignments that left shooters open and ultimately enabled Cortland to keep the game within reach. The scoreboard disparity remained 13 after three quarters, with Brockport ahead 66-53.
"I said in the start of the fourth, we have to keep doing what we were doing," Jones said. "We have to guard down the stretch, we have to rebound, and we have to take care of the basketball."
The Golden Eagles tried to slow down the pace and control the game, to mixed results. Fewer possessions were ending in quality takes than that of half one for Brockport. With 5:55 to play in the game, an Anna Lee layup gave Brockport a 16-point lead, 76-60. After this, Brockport turned the ball over four times before scoring their next basket. Cortland went on a 12-2 run. Seconds after the game entered its final two minutes, Jean-Baptiste went down with an injury. She was unable to walk off under her own power as Jones herself had to carry Jean-Baptiste to the trainer's table.
Amidst the Cortland scoring run, Jones neglected to use any second-half timeouts until the final minute. The decision paid off, with Brockport emerging as the victor. The Golden Eagles held on despite a strong rally by the Red Dragons. Brockport made seven of eight free throws in the fourth quarter en route to the 84-80 win.
"We knew we needed this," Zutes said. "I've been here three years, we'd never beat Cortland, but we f------ slayed the Dragon today."
The Golden Eagles will be back at The Vlog tomorrow, hosting Oswego State at 2 p.m. Listen to that game live on 89.1 the Point with the pregame show beginning at 1:45 p.m. Cortland will be in Geneseo tomorrow taking on the Knights at 2 p.m.