March 6, 2009

Courtesty Cortland State Athletics

SCRANTON, PA. - Junior Jessica Laing (Bloomville/South Kortright) scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds as Cortland defeated St. Lawrence, 71-55, in the opening round of the NCAA Division III tournament at The University of Scranton. The Red Dragons (24-4) will face either Scranton or Keuka in the second round Saturday at 7 p.m. at Scranton.

Jennifer Polan (Westhampton Beach) added 11 points and Jennifer Patten (Bainbridge/Bainbridge-Guilford) scored nine points for the Red Dragons. Cortland shot 65 percent from the floor (15-of-23) in the second half and 54 percent for the game. The Red Dragons made 6-of-11 three-pointers.

Laing became Cortland's career scoring leader with her performance. She now has 1,565 points, surpassing the previous mark of 1,550 set by Sara Cavanaugh from 2004-08.

St. Lawrence (19-8) was led by Katie Palmer's 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Lauren Sischo scored 11 points and Abby Stanton added 10 points. Cortland held the Saints to 28 percent shooting from the floor, including just 18 percent (5-of-28) from three-point range.

Cortland did not lead for the first 19 minutes of the half, but was still within 24-23 when Laing hit a layup at the 1:32 mark that gave her the Cortland career scoring mark. Maggie Byrne (Pearl River/Albertus Magnus) assisted on that basket, then hit a three-pointer with 36 seconds left to put Cortland ahead for good. The basket was the first for Byrne since December - she missed most of the second semester due to injury and played only two minutes in Cortland's loss to Potsdam in last week's SUNYAC semifinals. Byrne finished with eight points.

Laing's put-back layup with two seconds left in the half sent Cortland into the locker room with a 28-24 lead. Palmer made a jumper 17 seconds into the second half to bring St. Lawrence within two, but Polan buried back-to-back three-pointers over the next 1:15 to start a 13-0 Cortland run. Also part of the run were a Laing three-point play, an Ali Canale (Oswego) jumper and a Michelle Volpini (Newfield) layup, and Cortland led 41-26 with 15:41 remaining.

Cortland's lead grew to as much as 21 points at 57-36 on a Byrne fastbreak layup with 6:39 left. St. Lawrence pulled back to within 59-45 with 4:23 left on a Casey Capello three-pointer and was within 13 points at 66-53 with 1:29 remaining on two Palmer free throws, but the Saints got no closer after that.