A flair for the dramatic; Potsdam girl's hoops complete 2nd half rally to top New Paltz 57-50
Saturday, January 18, 2014 - 10:41 pm

Resiliency comes in many forms and a singular play can get a team back on track.

It could be that loose ball that a team needs to hustle for to retrieve or knocking down that 3-pointer that makes everybody on your bench stand up and shout in excitement.

For the SUNY Potsdam women's basketball team, it received a healthy contribution from a cast of different players who were willing to rise to the occasion as the Bears trailed for the most of its game against New Paltz and rallied back to win 57-50 on the road in a SUNYAC game Saturday afternoon.

Potsdam outscored New Paltz 17-4 in the final 6:39 of the game and made the big plays when needed.

Junior guard Hannah Kmiecinski (Webster, N.Y. / Webster-Thomas) knocked down a huge 3-pointer, junior Bailey Weigel (East Amherst, N.Y. / Williamsville East) sank two clutch free throws to tie it at 50 all with 2:20 left.

And, then the Bears (4-9 overall, 2-4 SUNYAC) closed the door from there. Weigel knocked down another pair of free throws with 1:48 remaining to give Potsdam its' first lead since 18:47 left in the first half.

Weigel made 7-of-8 from the foul line down the stretch and finished with 13 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and a blocked shot.

Senior forward Jessica Kouzan (Webster, N.Y. / Webster Schroeder) turned in another dazzling shooting performance by making 7-of-14 from the field including 4-of-9 from downtown to close with team highs of 18 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks.

Kmiecinski and Kouzan each came up with critical rebounds when the result was still in doubt. Kmiecinski chased down a huge offensive rebound that gave Potsdam a second chance to score and converted when she found Chenice Russell (Moira, N.Y. / Brushton-Moira) open for a jumper to bring the Bears within three with 5:32 to go.

After being outrebounded by a margin of 26 on Friday night against Oneonta, Potsdam completely turned it around and won the rebounding edge 46-42 on Saturday.

"We finally started doing the things that we talked about," said Potsdam ninth-year coach Tara Ruckh. "We really tried to focus on being better on the boards. We did that today. Hannah hit a big shot and got some big rebounds for us and I thought she really handled the pressure well. Everything that we needed to happen in the second half happened for us. Bailey got to the line and Jess has been shooting the ball really well."

Russell provided an all-around game with eight points, five rebounds, four assists, five steals and two blocks. Russell has 30 steals on the season, good for a 2.3 average per contest and tied for second best in the conference. Only New Paltz's Goldie Harrison has averaged more (2.4 steals per game).

Kouzan and Kmiecinski combined for seven rebounds in the final four minutes of play and forced the Hawks into fouling the Bears and sending them to the line. Freshman forward Patti Dorgler (Floral Park, N.Y. / Archbishop Malloy) and Russell also came up with important rebounds in crunch time.

New Paltz led 29-23 at the break and led by as many as eight in the second half. The Hawks kept a three-to-eight point lead throughout much of the second half, but Potsdam would not go away.

Freshman Kit Small scored a game-high 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting with 10 rebounds and a block and a steal to lead the Hawks (2-12 overall, 0-7 SUNYAC). Jeanette Scott added 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting, but the rest of Hawks struggled and shot 4-of-43 from the field.

Potsdam's road trip will continue with a visit to SUNYAC rival Plattsburgh (10-3 overall, 5-1 SUNYAC) on Tuesday at 6 p.m.