AUBURN — The Spartans chipped away one basket and one defensive stop at a time.
Despite trailing by 10 points early in the fourth quarter, the Cayuga Community College women’s basketball team kept SUNY Adirondack scoreless in the final five minutes and netted the last 13 points to pull out a 52-49 win at Spartan Hall Sunday.
“We got a couple of stops and we made a couple baskets, and then they started to get excited,” Alberici said. “The good news is we were never really that far out of the game. I didn’t think we played or best or had the most energy, but we hung around. When we got a couple baskets and stops on defense, that picked up the energy and they said ‘Coach is right, we can come back and do this.’”
Cayuga’s Gabby Bell led the rally late in the fourth quarter with points off of fast breaks. The sophomore finished with a team-high 18 points and added eight rebounds.
Bell, one of two players with college experience on the Spartans’ roster, sees a big difference from last year’s team.
“It seems like we’ve got a better team that knows how to communicate more than last year,” Bell said. “Communication was what it was on the court last year. Everybody wanted to play as individuals. Now this year it’s a whole new team and everyone is willing to work together.”
Jordan-Elbridge graduate Emily Klock recorded a double-double for Cayuga with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Loren Clifford had six points and 11 rebounds, Union Springs grad Michaela Tanner chipped in seven points and five assists, and Port Byron’s Erica Helzer finished with two points and three assists.
The Timberwolves took advantage of the Spartans’ turnovers early. Adirondack went on an eight-point run, and jumped out to a 12-6 lead to prompt a timeout.
Cayuga trailed 18-12 after the first 10 minutes, and the Timberwolves outscored the Spartans 14-12 in the second quarter to take a 32-24 lead into halftime. Cayuga kept pace with Adirondack in the third, and scored the final three points to cut its deficit to seven heading into the final frame.
For Alberici, his team came out flat in its third game in five days.
“I just didn’t think we had the energy we needed,” Alberici said. “We talked about at halftime picking up the energy, and I don’t think the energy was much better in the third.”
Cayuga trailed 49-39 early in the fourth quarter. Klock and Clifford scored back-to-back baskets to prompt an Adirondack timeout, and Bell added a couple buckets off the fast break to cut the Timberwolves’ lead to a single point.
Helzer’s basket put the Spartans ahead with 2:09 left, Klock added to the lead shortly after and Cayuga held off Adirondack’s attack in the final minute.
It was the second day in a row of fourth-quarter rallies for the Spartans. Cayuga cut Hudson Valley’s 18-point lead to four in the final quarter, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
“They’re confident and I don’t think any of them panic when we get behind,” Alberici said. “It’s not a goal of ours, but in all three games we’ve been behind and they never stop playing. That’s a good sign.”
Cayuga (2-1) travels to Schenectady County Community College on Saturday. Alberici likes what he has seen from his team early in the season.
“We definitely have a lot to clean up, but … I think this is the most athletic and talented team I’ve had here in a few years,” Alberici said. “The thing that I really like is that they stick to it and keep playing. They don’t get down.”