January 23, 2013
SUNYAC Basketball: Dragons on a roll
ONEONTA — Suddenly faced with a second half challenge, the SUNY Cortland men’s basketball team was up to the task while securing a fifth straight victory Tuesday night.
Oneonta had dwindled a 16-point deficit to a mere three points before the visiting Red Dragons pulled away to secure a 64-54 victory and remain a half-game out of first place in the SUNY Athletic Conference standings.
Senior point guard Jesse Winter scored 17 points, handed out four assists and came up with the three-point play that ignited a decisive 9-0 Cortland run with Oneonta still within 52-49 with 5:39 left to play at Dewar Arena.
Junior forward Kevin McMahon added 16 points — on 8-of-10 shooting — and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds as Cortland captured the “Battle of the Red Dragons.” Both schools share the same nickname.
Cortland improved to 7-2 in conference play and is still tied with Plattsburgh for second place a mere half-game behind an 8-2 Geneseo squad that defeated Fredonia 77-43 last night. Plattsburgh kept pace by pasting Potsdam 85-63.
Senior guard Jeremy Smith was also in double figures for Cortland with 14 points, and matched Winter’s four-assist output. Backcourt backup Lamard Herron contributed eight points off Coach Tom Spanbauer’s bench.
Oneonta (1-8 SUNYAC and 2-13 overall) was led by Zach Mager’s 22 points and eight rebounds. He hit 7-of-13 shots, including all three of his 3-point attempts. Jack Dignan chipped in with 14 points, including 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point distance.
Cortland shot 62 percent from the floor in the second half and 53 percent for the game. The Red Dragons also hit 7-of-16 treys.
Oneonta opened a 9-2 lead to start the game, but Cortland quickly came back and built a 26-17 advantage after two Herron free throws with 7:48 left. Cortland led by 10 points later in the period and held a 32-24 halftime advantage.
Cortland then started the second half on an 11-3 streak, with McMahon providing eight of the points, and held its largest lead of the night at 43-27 with 14:33 left. Oneonta responded by scoring 15 of the game’s next 17 points, capped by a Terrence Parker 3-pointer at the 10:14 mark, and the hosts were within three.
It remained a three-point game at 52-49 with 5:38 left after a pair of Mager free throws.
Winter’s three-point play on a drive to the basket then triggered a 9-0 run that ended with two Smith layups and Cortland led 61-49 with 2:39 left. The margin remained at 10 or higher the rest of the way.
Cortland travels to Oswego on Saturday in a rematch of last year’s conference championship game. with an 8 p.m. opening tip.
National Honor for Smith
Cortland’s Smith was selected to the D3hoops.com national men’s basketball “Team of the Week,” presented by Scoutware, for the week ending Jan. 20. The team represents the best five Division III players from all schools, by position, during the previous week’s action.
Smith averaged 29 points and shot 72 percent from the field in two Cortland weekend victories. He scored 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting in a 79-73 win Friday over first place Geneseo. The following night, he scored 35 points — two shy of his career high — and hit 14-of-18 shots in a 102-83 rout at Brockport.
Heading into the Oneontaa game, Smith ranked second on the Red Dragon squad this winter with 14.6 points and 2.9 assists per game.
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