Red Dragons’ rally falls short

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

SUNY Cortland’s Kerry McHugh passes around Montclair State defenders during the second quarter of Friday night’s game. The Red Dragons lost, 68-62.

The Cortland women’s basketball team reduced a 10-point deficit with four minutes remaining to three Friday night but came up just short in a 68-62 season-opening loss to nationally 23rd-ranked Montclair State.

The game was the first of two at Corey Gym during the opening night of the Cortaca Classic. Ithaca held off FDU-Florham, 83-81, in the second contest. Action was to move to Ithaca today, with Cortland facing FDU-Florham at 1 p.m. and Ithaca playing Montclair at 3 p.m.

Katie Sire led the visiting Red Hawks with 27 points and six rebounds. Taylor Harmon added 13 points, six boards and four assists, and Kate Tobie contributed nine points and a team-high six assists.

Taylor Miler (Freeport) led the Red Dragons with 12 points and six rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench. She hit 5-of-8 field goals, and also dished out two assists. Miller scored eight of her 12 points in the second half. Kristy Vitucci hit three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points, while junior Shana Crespo scored a career-high 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

Also for Cortland, Kerry McHugh dished out a career-high six assists. Tanna Mohammed scored eight points, while Justine Crespo and Katie Carey each pulled down four rebounds.

Cortland trailed 15-10 after one quarter and 35-30 at halftime during a closely contested first half. Montclair took a 45-35 lead on a Sire layup midway through the third quarter, and the Red Hawks entered the fourth up by nine, 54-45.

The guests took their largest lead of the night at 59-45 on a Tobie layup with 8:47 remaining. The lead was still in double figures at 65-55 with 4:03 left after Tobie made the second of two free throws.

Shana Crespo started Cortland’s late surge with a layup at the 3:42 mark, and Mohammed buried a trey from the right side with 3:10 left to pull the Red Dragons within five. About a minute and a half later, Miller scored on a driving layup and Cortland was within three, 65-62, with 1:40 left.

Montclair answered on a Sire layup, off a Harmon pass, with 1:18 left to extend its lead to 67-62. Cortland turned the ball over on its next possession, but forced a shot-clock violation to get the ball back with 38 seconds left. Cortland, however, missed a jumper with 25 seconds left, and Harmon finished the scoring with a free throw at the 15-second mark.

In the second game of the night, Ithaca led 82-72 with a minute left, but FDU-Florham stormed back and closed to within two. The Devils then had an inbounds underneath its own basket with less than two seconds left, but missed a potential tying layup right before the buzzer.

Julie Yacovoni led Ithaca with 20 points, while Gabrielle Harris poured in 31 points for FDU-Florham.

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