By John Torenli
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Last March, the Brooklyn College women’s basketball team saw its dream of capturing the CUNYAC championship end with a bitter defeat at the hands of Lehman College in the Bronx.
The sting of the season-ending CUNYAC Tournament loss appeared to linger with the Lady Bulldogs through the first half of their first meeting with the Lightning since that semifinal showdown night.
BC made only five of its first 32 shots over the game’s first 20 minutes — that’s just over 15 percent, if you’re counting — and stumbled into the locker room down 19-17 before a sparse crowd at Borough of Manhattan Community College.
Undaunted by their shooting woes, the Bulldogs rebounded with a gritty effort that earned them a measure of revenge, their third straight victory and kept their perfect record (11-5, 5-0) in CUNYAC play intact as they rallied for a 59-54 victory.
It was a pair of seniors, Lauren Plagianos and Justine O’Callahan, who made sure BC didn’t head into Saturday’s matchup with Baruch at the West Quad Center reeling from yet another painful loss to Lehman.
Plagianos led all scorers with 21 points, including a 6-of-11 performance from 3-point range, and O’Callahan added 11 points and a team-best 15 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who shot 44 percent after halftime and benefited from 20 Lightning turnovers.
“We didn’t have our best shooting performance tonight,” understated BC coach Alex Lang. “In the second half we tried to change the tempo of the game and we were able to get our offense going.
“Our seniors hit some big shots for us in the second half to seal the victory.”
Freshman guard Nicole Francomano did her share as well, finishing with 13 points and eight rebounds as the Bulldogs held a 52-42 advantage on the boards.
BC didn’t take the lead for good until Francomano and senior Tiffany Thompson converted back-to-back baskets with 9:35 to play, snapping a 32-32 deadlock.
* * *
The BC men hoped to build on the momentum of the women’s team when they hit the floor at BMCC in the second game of the doubleheader, but Lehman handed the Bulldogs a 70-61 setback.
Senior guard Tyshawn Russell scored 23 points, grabbed eight rebounds and handed out three assists and junior forward Kavon Baker contributed 13 points and six boards for the Bulldogs, who slipped to 10-4 overall and 3-2 in CUNYAC play with their first loss in three games.
Senior guard Amil John added 12 points and seven rebounds and junior forward Keiran Halton had seven points and seven boards as BC blew an eight-point, second-half lead and was murdered along the boards by a 50-34 margin.
The Bulldogs will also be back in action Saturday against visiting Baruch.
* * *
On the Downtown college scene, LIU-Brooklyn’s men’s soccer team earned the Northeast Conference sportsmanship award for the fall 2011 season.
The award recognizes the team that most closely demonstrates the NEC’s sportsmanship standards.
Instituted by league presidents in 2008, voting is conducted at the conclusion of each season by each student-athlete and head coach, ranking teams within the conference based on a set of criteria.
“One of our core values is the commitment to sportsmanship by student-athletes, coaches and fans,” said NEC commissioner Noreen Morris. “The Northeast Conference strives to be a leader in this area, and I congratulate these teams for an outstanding job promoting the ideals and fundamentals of good sportsmanship.”
The Blackbirds went 5-10-3 last season, including 3-6-1 in NEC play.
* * *
On the local high school beat, Lincoln coach Dwayne “Tiny” Morton and his Railsplitters will be the centerpiece of a new reality series, “City Hardwood,” beginning Sunday evening at 8 p.m. on NYC Life (Channel 25).
Morton, whose team is currently atop the Public School Athletic League’s ultra-tough Brooklyn AA Division with a 10-1 record, is trying to recapture the city championship after watching arch rival Boys and Girls win each of the last two titles at Madison Square Garden.
Lincoln bested B&G last Saturday at home in a championship game rematch, but went on to suffer an upset loss to Thomas Jefferson Tuesday on Ocean Parkway.
Morton questioned his team’s toughness following the defeat, doubtlessly trying to inspire them down the stretch run leading into next month’s Brooklyn Borough Championships and PSAL Playoffs.
Kangaroos coach Ruth Lovelace and her team will be featured on the show, which will also go across the bridge to give viewers a glimpse of Manhattan girls’ powerhouse Murray Bergtraum.
The series can also be viewed online at nyc.gov/vod and iTunes. Stay tuned.