---- — ONEONTA — Many pundits in the sporting world say one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish is to defeat the same team three times in a single season.
In its first-round SUNY Athletic Conference playoff game, the Plattsburgh State women’s basketball got a lot of pleasure out of showing Oneonta State how true that particular opinion can be.
Kathleen Payne recorded a game-high 26 points and was one of three Cardinal (14-12) players to finish with 10 rebounds as Plattsburgh ran over the Red Dragons by a score of 66-52 at Dewar Arena Tuesday night.
Thanks to back-to-back triples from Brittany Marshall and Brooke Reifinger, Plattsburgh grabbed its first lead of the tilt, 12-9, with 12:18 to go in the opening frame.
Oneonta State captured its final lead of the game with a 7-0 run that culminated with Kristin Pappalardo’s first long ball of the contest that made things 16-12.
That’s when the Cardinals started rolling.
Dana Nucaro began a Plattsburgh’s scoring explosion with a seemingly innocuous layup off of an inbounds pass from Catherine Cassidy before the latter made the Red Dragons pay for their lackluster perimeter defense.
“Our effort was tremendous,” Plattsburgh coach Cheryl Cole said. “We played more aggressive than they did, we played harder than they did and we put together 40 minutes of great team basketball.”
Plattsburgh State’s offensive success seemed to fuel its defensive intensity as the Cardinals rendered any sort of Oneonta State offensive game plan obsolete for the rest of the half. The Red Dragons were just 1-of-12 from the field while committing five turnovers during the final stages of the half.
The first half mercifully ended for the Red Dragons after Plattsburgh State’s 22-2 run that made things 34-18 heading into the halftime strategy session. The Cardinals were 6-of-13 (46.2 percent) from three-point land in the opening frame.
“Our game plan was to attack inside and get good work on the boards,” Cole said. “We outrebounded them to win the game. Our offense kind of clicked. They slowed down a little bit in the second half and were more productive, but we completed our goal of dominating on the glass.”
Misha Green banked in a layup in the first minute of the deciding frame that gave the Cardinals their largest lead of the game, 36-18.
After swapping baskets over the next two possessions, the Red Dragons began to show signs of life. Pappalardo and the SUNYAC leader in blocked shots Sarah Longto steered the home team back into the game with a 10-0 run that took just 1:29 off of the clock.
“We came out in the second half and didn’t shoot quite as well,” Cole said. “They played aggressive. We were physical, and I loved our heart and desire on the floor.”
Pappalardo drilled a pair of triples and Longto added two free throws and a layup that trimmed the Plattsburgh State lead to 38-30 with 15:26 to go in the half.
The Red Dragons would only threaten the Cardinals on two more occasions. Pappalardo swished another three-ball that whittled Plattsburgh State’s lead down to eight, 52-44, with 8:45 to go, but Reifinger and Devona Paul combined to sink three free throws on the next two possessions that re-fortified the Plattsburgh State edge.
Longto brought Oneonta back within single digits for the final time with a make at the charity stripe that made the score 57-48, but Payne would clinch it for the Cardinals with a pair of free throws followed by a trey that served as the knockout punch, putting Plattsburgh State up 62-48 with 2:24 to go.
On her birthday, Cassidy turned in one of the best performances of her career. The Brooklyn native netted 12 points and completed her double-double with 10 rebounds. The senior filled up her stat line further with four assists and a quartet of steals.
Green also yanked down 10 rebounds while Marshall passed out a game-high six assists.
Pappalardo led Oneonta State with 18 points in the season finale for the Red Dragons.
Plattsburgh State out-rebounded their SUNYAC foes 53-39 as well.
The Cardinals will have to hit the road once again as one of the last four teams standing in the SUNYAC. Plattsburgh State will head south to New Paltz to take on the Hawks, who are the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament. The game is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. on Friday.
“We can beat them,” Cole said. “We lost to them in overtime at our place earlier this season. I’m happy with how are playing defensively and executing our offense. If we can sustain our effort in the boards, we feel good about our chances. We’re ready to go.”
Plattsburgh State 66, Oneonta State 52
Plattsburgh State (66)
Payne 10-4-37, Cassidy 4-0-12, Reifinger 1-4-7, Marshall 2-1-6, Green 2-1-5, Adedapo 2-0-5, Nucaro 1-2-4, Paul 0-1-1, Llyod 0-0-0. Totals: 22-13-66.
Oneonta State (52)
Pappalardo 6-1-18, Longto 3-3-9, Price 3-2-9, Schilling 1-5-7, Crawford 2-0-5, Mulligan 2-0-4, Loomis 0-0-0, Cariseo 0-0-0, Polan 0-0-0. Totals: 17-11-52.
Halftime: Plattsburgh State, 34-18.
3-point goals: Plattsburgh State (9): Payne 2, Cassidy 4, Marshall, Reifinger, Adedapo. Oneonta State (7): Pappalardo 5, Price, Crawford.