Just past the middle of SUNYAC play, the Oswego State women’s basketball team finds themselves tied for third place. With seven conference games remaining, the Lakers are right where they want to be.
"Our goal is to host a home game in the conference playoffs," said senior guard and captain Rachel Kohrs. "I think we are in a good spot to take the whole thing."
The Lakers are 10-8 overall and 7-4 in the SUNYAC, having won six of their last seven games and eight of their last 11. The toughest two-game stretch of the year lay ahead with back-to-back road games at SUNY Oneonta and SUNY Cortland. Splitting the two-game road trip would be crucial to their chances of securing at least fourth place in the SUNYAC.
The Lakers are turning the ball over just under 21 times a game.
"Limiting our turnovers is our key to every game, but we want to push the ball," coach Tracy Bruno said. "We need to limit our careless turnovers, like jostling your feet for a travel. [In] close-possession games, one or two turnovers can be the difference."
Struggling a bit on the offensive side of the ball, they are seventh in field goal percentage shooting 35.6 percent. From behind the 3-point arc, the Lakers are shooting 27.2 percent, which is ninth in the conference. At the line, the Lakers are shooting just 62.3 percent, which is also ninth in the conference.
"We focus a lot on defense," Bruno said. "Our practices are 75 percent defense and 25 percent offense. We have improved considerably since Christmas and have become more efficient at running our offensive sets."
On the defensive side of the ball, the Lakers are forcing 21.6 turnovers a game, including 11.44 steals, which is second in the conference. Teams are shooting 35 percent from the field and just 27 percent from behind the 3-point arc, which are fourth and second in the conference, respectively. On the glass, the Lakers are swiping 38.8 rebounds per game.
"We talk about defense being our identity," Bruno said. "We know we can get stops. When you know you can make stops it gives you a level of confidence on the offensive end."
The Lakers are led by sophomore Kayla Ryan, who averages 12.7 points per game, which is eighth in the SUNYAC. Ryan is also grabbing 7.2 rebounds per game, good for sixth in the conference. Colleen McCready is scoring 9.9 points per game and securing 7.1 rebounds per game, good for seventh in the conference.
"They are a great one-two punch," Bruno said. "They are very instinctive players on both ends of the floor."
The Lakers have remained healthy, starting the same five in all 18 games so far. Also contributing to the Lakers success has been Kristen Diglio with 7.6 points per game. She has also knocked down 96 3-pointers on the year. Rachel Kohrs is averaging 7.4 points per game and pulling down 4.0 rebounds per game for Oswego State. Traci Bacon is scoring 7.0 points per game while grabbing 6.2 rebounds per game and also leads the team in assists with 2.7 per game.
Off the bench, the Lakers are getting quality minutes from Meagan Stover and Tricia Sullivan. Stover, a freshman, is averaging 4.1 points per game and 2.7 rebounds per game in only about 13 minutes per game. Sullivan, a senior, is averaging 18.8 minutes per game and scoring 3.3 points per game while averaging 1.8 assists, which is second on the team.
"Tricia Sullivan is lightning quick," Bruno said. "We play well when these two kids are contributing."
With the season winding down the Lakers will go on the road for five of their final seven contests. They have stops in Cortland and Oneonta, who sit one and two in the conference, respectively.
"We need to take care of business on the road," Bruno said. "Our identity is defense and you can play that whether you are tired, home or away." The Lakers are 5-3 on the road.
With each game meaning more and more, and the conference tournament lurking in the distance, the Lakers look to clean up offensively and tighten up defensively.
"We match up well with anybody in the conference," Bruno said. "We look at it like who is going to match up with us?"
With the season coming to a halt the Lady Lakers set their sights on the ultimate goal a conference championship and NCAA tourney bid.