Eagles Fly in Season Opener
By: Dylan O'Loughlin
ALFRED, NY — The Brockport Golden Eagles women’s basketball team opened up their season on the road as they went up against the 0-2 Alfred State Pioneers in a highly defensive and physical matchup. It was a slow start for both teams that picked up in the end, as the Brockport Golden Eagles prevailed in a double-digit victory, 68-55.
Stephanie Jean-Baptiste shooting a lay-up over Alfred State defenders (Photo Credits: Brockport Athletics)
The first quarter was a fast start as both teams combined for 36 points in the first quarter, the second highest scoring quarter of the game. The scoring started in the paint as the bigs left their mark on the game early. Forward Zoe Zutes and forward Zairea Hannah put up two back-to-back lay-ups each to give Brockport the lead early. They weren’t the only ones scoring in the paint early though as it was a battle of the bigs with center Katelyn Curry putting up the first few buckets for the Pioneers as well.
As the first quarter went on, both teams were efficient from the field. Brockport shot 9-17 from the field, just over 50% in the first, while the Pioneers shot 6-13 in the first giving Brockport a six-point lead with a 21-15 score.
The high defensive intensity from both teams caused a lot of turnovers and also gave Brockport more chances to score in the first and they took advantage. Brockport finished with 17 turnovers, while the Pioneers finished with 19. The 3-point shooting was not there for either team today as Brockport finished 4-20 from 3 while Alfred State finished 6-16. One of Brockport’s three’s came from the hands of freshman guard Mandy Brink in the first quarter. That would be the only points from Brink tonight as she finished with four points including a free throw to add to her total.
The second quarter is where the defense really picked up. Only 22 points were scored in total that quarter as Brockport didn’t break double digits only scoring nine points in the quarter while Alfred State put up 13 to win the quarter. Brockport shot 3-16 from the field and 0-5 from three and added three free throws to their total, while the Pioneers shot 5-12 from the field, two of those shots being threes, one from Jenna George, and the other coming from Jaiden Williams. Costly turnovers and missed shots decreased Brockport’s lead to two, as Brockport had a 30-28 lead after the first half.
Heading into the third, adjustments were made on Brockport’s end which would help them blow the lead to 19 points at one point. This all started with the second chance opportunities that were obtained by the rebounding from Zairea Hannah. Hannah finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds as her efforts put the Eagles up big. To go along with her dominant performance on the boards, the Eagles switched to a full-court press which caused a lot of Alfred State turnovers. Brockport would win this quarter 26-11 and have a 56-39 lead over the Pioneers heading into the 4th quarter.
Most of the scoring today came from last year’s SUNYAC Rookie of the Year, guard Stephanie Jean-Baptiste as she finished with 21 points on 9-15 shooting, picking up right where she left off from last year. She joined in on the 3-point shooting as she made one along with Tatum Smyth and Mallory Turner who put one in off the glass.
“I think we needed to play more in our system,” Jean-Baptiste said. “When we started out, we were just trying to play, we weren’t playing our game. And I think once we started playing in our system, that started opening up shots for me.”
Heading into the 4th quarter, Brockport had a 17-point lead, but that dwindled a bit after some costly turnovers. The Pioneers were able to go on run as they got more shot attempts but were not able to capitalize. In the 4th, Pioneers shot 5-16, while the Golden Eagles shot 5-12. What won the game for the Golden Eagles in the end though were the underclassmen.
With five minutes remaining in the game, Brockport’s head coach Corrine Jones put the trust into freshmen Mallory Turner, Shasha Cooper, and Kelsey Morgans as they played along with sophomores Tatum Smyth and Madison Misser to end the game and put the starters to the bench. Their high intensity and giving no inch of space on the defensive end is what gave Brockport the advantage on the tired legs of the Pioneers. With just under a minute in the game, where it looked like the Pioneers were making a run, Shasha Cooper delivered the dagger off of a mid range giving the Brockport Golden Eagles a 68-55 win. It was slow in the beginning, but they were able to get it done.
“Definitely a great way to start the season,” Jean-Baptiste said. “A great way to set the pace for this season.”
The Brockport Golden Eagles start their season 1-0 as they look ahead to the 58 Main BBQ & Brew Tip-Off Classic as they will play a double header on Friday November 17, first game against Keuka and the second against Fredonia.