Cortland Rallies Past Fredonia, 55-51, to Advance to SUNYAC Semifinals

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CORTLAND, N.Y. - Alyssa Crosby (Brier Hill/Hammond) and Cassidy Chapko (Valley Falls/Hoosic Valley) each scored 14 points as fourth-seeded Cortland defeated fifth-seeded Fredonia, 55-51, in the SUNYAC Women's Basketball Tournament quarterfinals at Corey Gymnasium.

The Red Dragons (13-13) will face top-seeded and unbeaten Geneseo in the semifinals of the six-team tournament Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Geneseo's Schrader Gymnasium. Sixth-seeded Brockport will face second-seeded New Paltz in Friday's first semifinal, and the championship game is set for Saturday at 4 p.m., also at Geneseo.

Cortland is making its 23rd straight SUNYAC tournament appearance and 32nd in 33 years. The Red Dragons will be playing in the semifinal round for the 27th time, and will look to make their 16th appearance in the finals.

Crosby finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals in 38 minutes of playing time, while Chapko ahd 14 points, five assists and four rebounds in 36 minutes. Danielle Levine (Holbrook/Sachem North), Stephanie Rice (Duanesburg) and Kristy Vitucci (Deer Park) each scored six points, with Levine also adding seven rebounds, and Joka Oyefeso (Staten Island/Port Richmond) blocked four shots in nine minutes off the bench.

Fredonia (17-9) was led by Alexis Cheatham with 15 points and eight assists. Khee Nance tallied 14 points off the bench and Jacque Law scored eight points. Jenna Einink led the Blue Devils with five rebounds and two blocks.

Cortland trailed 15-9 after one quarter and 33-23 at halftime. After the Red Dragons cut the score to 35-29 with 8:30 left on a Crosby layup, neither team scored for more than five minutes until Cheatham hit two free throws with 2:55 left in the third to put Fredonia up eight.

Cortland, however, finished the period on a 9-2 run that started with a Crosby 3-point play and a Samantha Roberts (North Syracuse/Cicero-North Syracuse) 3-point jumper. Vitucci's 3-pointer with 29 seconds left sent the Red Dragons into the fourth quarter down only one at 39-38.

The hosts took their first lead since the score was 6-4 when Chapko nailed a 3-pointer with 8:08 remaining. The lead changed hands six times over the next four minutes, with Cortland taking the lead for good at 47-46 on a Rice layup with 4:49 left. Cortland's lead grew to 51-46 on two Rice free throws with 3:46 left.

Fredonia eventually got back to within a point at 52-51 on a Cheatham 3-pointer with 30 seconds left. Levine sank two free throws two seconds later to put Cortland up three, and Cheatham missed a potential tying trey with 18 seconds left.

Fredonia was called for an intentional foul with less than eight seconds left, but Chapko missed both free throws. The Blue Devils then fouled Roberts with less than seven seconds remaining, and she sank the second of her two attempts to give Cortland a four-point lead and seal the victory.

Cortland shot 38 percent in the second half and 36 percent for the game. Fredonia made 47 percent of its first-half shots, but the Red Dragons held the Blue Devils to just 24 percent from the floor after halftime. Fredonia ended only 3-of-23 from the 3-point arc, 1-of-11 in the second half.