Women’s Basketball momentum halted by Geneseo, 68-57

Emmanuel Rodriguez, Associate Sports Editor

The SUNY Buffalo State Women’s basketball team had its brief two-game winning streak snapped by the Geneseo Knights, 68-57, on Tuesday afternoon at the Sports Arena.

After matching her career high with 37 points on Sunday, Bengals forward Liv LeBaron struggled against the Knights, who sat in second place in the SUNYAC standings entering the game. LeBaron finished with 13 points on 6-for-16 shooting from the field, with six rebounds and six assists. LeBaron also finished with eight turnovers.

“I think it just got in her head,” said Bengals head coach Marybeth Nugent, who’s in her first year at the position. “She sees the court really well, but sometimes tries to force passes that aren’t always there.”

LeBaron echoed her coach’s criticism after the game.

“We just didn’t pull it off today,” LeBaron said. “Some stupid forced turnovers that we shouldn’t have had, forcing passes. Our offense just wasn’t flowing as usual.”

In the first half, Geneseo came out of the gates firing on all cylinders. The Knights shot 48% from the field and 42% from behind the arc. The Bengals countered this with only a 33% clip from both the field and behind the arc. Geneseo led 37-27 as they headed to the locker room at the half.

By then, Bengals center Princella McCullough already had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

“The things that she’s doing, the numbers she’s putting up, I mean, she’s the leading rebounder in the SUNYAC and it is absolutely fantastic,” LeBaron said of McCullough. “We are so blessed to have a big like her.”

McCullough finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds.

“I thought (McCullough) had fire in the beginning, for sure,” Nugent said. “I think she got a little tired towards the end, but she was just in it and showed up tonight.”

After Knights forward McKenna Brooks stole the ball, she laid the ball in to give the Knights the biggest lead of the night at 15. Those were just two of the Knights’ 28 points off turnovers.

“We turn it over and put our head down,” said Nugent, scratching her head. “If all five would run back and play defense.”

The Bengals were able to cut the deficit down to seven with a hair under six minutes left in the game, but the Knights proved why they are a force in the conference and did not let the Bengals get back into the game answering right back with a quick 5-0 run to stop any momentum.

Bengals guard Katie Villarini had a good game on Tuesday, posting a 13 point, 8 rebound stat line. Villarini also shot well from behind the arc, making two of her three attempts.

“I love playing with (Villarini),” McCullough said. “She’s a leader, only a sophomore, she has her best years ahead of her. She doesn’t care who gets the ball, as long as the ball goes in the basket.”

With the loss, Buffalo State falls to 11-11 with a 5-10 record in SUNYAC play. They slipped to eighth place in the SUNYAC standings with three games left.

Things won’t get much easier for the Bengals. They will be back in action on Friday night as they travel to New Paltz to take on the first-place Hawks. The tip is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. The Bengals won’t be home again until Feb. 16, the last game of the season, against the Fredonia Blue Devils.