By Tim Pulsifer
---- — The stakes could hardly be much higher as Plattsburgh State’s women’s basketball team plays its final two road games of the regular season this weekend at Oneonta and New Paltz.
As one of four teams sporting identical 5-6 conference marks, the Cardinals could definitely use a win over the Red Dragons and/or the Hawks to help improve their overall positioning with the regular season winding down.
Plattsburgh would also like to attain a measure of payback having recently lost to the same two opponents at home.
The Cardinals continue to be led by junior Kathleen Payne, who recently became just the eighth player in program history to eclipse the 1,000-point plateau for a career. Payne is currently third in the conference in scoring, averaging 14.3 a game, and also ranks among the conference elite in rebounding with 6.8 a game.
Sophomore point guard Brittany Marshall has also provided a spark for Plattsburgh, averaging 11.4 points and 4.6 assists, through 18 games.
The Cardinals (9-9. 5-6 SUNYAC), have been struggling of late, having lost five of their last six, including a heartbreaking 75-71 overtime loss to then-unbeaten New Paltz on Jan. 18th followed less than 24 hours later by a rather lackluster 65-52 setback at the hands of Oneonta.
This weekend’s first opponent is an Oneonta team that struggled a bit early in the season but appears to be on the rise. The Red Dragons (8-10, 5-6, led by Kristen Pappalardo (11.8 ppg) and Grace Schilling (9.2 ppg), have now won three of their last four games to move them right into the thick of the conference race.
Saturday’s opponent is a New Paltz team that has been at the top of the league standings basically from the get-go. The Hawks (16-2, 10-1) continue to be led by two of the better all-around players in the conference in Alex McCullough and Michelle Valle, as well as one of the deepest and most balanced benches in the league.
After this weekend’s play, the Cardinals return home, where they will play their final five regular-season games.