February 13, 2013
Red Dragons romp to 20th victory
Secure 1st place beating New Paltz 87-47
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Kevin McMahon (50) of SUNY Cortland puts in two as Matt Devine of SUNY New Paltz attempts a block Tuesday night. McMahon scored 20 points in 87-47 Red Dragons romp.
Considering the fact senior point guard Jesse Winter is the SUNY Cortland all-time scoring leader, coming up with just seven points in a contest usually is a cause for concern.
That’s not the case with these Red Dragons, however.
That’s not what this surging and well-balanced basketball bunch is all about, as Cortland men clinched at least a tie for first place in the conference with a resounding 87-47 victory over New Paltz on Tuesday night.
“Hey, I’ll take a 40-point win with me scoring zero points any day,” said Winter, who had seven of the 20 assists Cortland collected in this Corey Gymnasium rout. “I don’t even care how much I score, we got a big-time win. You know what? If we can win a SUNYAC championship with me scoring that many points, I’ll take it.”
With a 12th consecutive victory, this Cortland squad ranked 23rd nationally in Division III reached the 20-win plateau for a second consecutive season. The Red Dragons also avenged their last loss — a 77-70 setback in New Paltz that got second semester play underway back on Jan. 8.
Junior forward Kevin McMahon had 20 points and eight rebounds, senior guard Jeremy Smith tossed in 18 points including four 3-pointers and senior Brian Manning came up with 14 points and five rebounds as Cortland improved to 14-2 in the SUNY Athletic Conference and 20-3 overall.
Though games at second place Plattsburgh on Friday night and at Potsdam Saturday afternoon remain on the regular season slate, and Cortland could still wind up sharing first place with Plattsburgh, the Red Dragons are on the verge of hosting the SUNYAC Final Four on Feb. 22-23. The top six teams advance into the playoffs, with Cortland already guaranteed a first round bye.
“We’re rolling right now. Everything’s clicking at the right time of the season,” said team captain Winter. “You saw it today. It’s coming from all angles. Guys are hungry, guys want to score.”
How good has Cortland been of late?
Since surviving a home court overtime scare against Brockport, in the month of February the Red Dragons have beaten Fredonia by 13 points, Buffalo State by 16 points, Oneonta by 28 points and Oswego by 32 points prior to this blowout.
THIS ONE WAS OVER early, too, with Cortland in 48-21 control by the time halftime rolled around.
And the Red Dragons could have reached 50 points by the break if 6-foot-1 sophomore guard Lamard Herron’s bid for a spectacular dunk over a New Paltz defender with 16 seconds left — after feasting on one of 24 turnovers committed by the visitors — had not bounded off the rim and soared out of bounds.
This Cortland romp put dent in the playoff aspirations of the Hawks, still in the hunt for one of those six playoff berths after falling to 8-9 in conference play, 10-15 overall and having a modest two-game winning streak halted.
This Cortland romp spoiled the homecoming of sorts by freshman guard Keegan Donovan, who was a high-scoring Interscholastic Athletic Conference Player of the Year at nearby Groton Central just last winter.
Starting guard Donovan did have three assists before a contingent of rooters, but was 0-for-5 from the floor and had just a free throw point during his 24 minutes of court time.
His New Paltz teammates did not fare much better, though leading scorer and talented senior Matt Devine did reach his scoring average with 20 points. The rest of the Hawks made just 9-of-40 shots against a ball-hawking Cortland defense that featured seven steals from Herron and three blocked shots by 6-foot-9 senior center Dan Sternkopf.
“We’re making some big shots offensively, which is giving us a lot of energy on defense,” said Cortland coach Tom Spanbauer. “Our defense, on the flip side, is giving us opportunities to play run-out basketball, which is giving us a lot of good scoring opportunities. So we’re in a nice symmetrical cycle.”
CORTLAND HAD AN early 10-0 run featuring 3-pointers by Smith and Manning to take a 21-9 lead, and got eight unanswered points from the explosive Smith on a pair of treys and a pull-up jumper in transition for a 32-11 advantage. Over the final four-plus minutes of the half, Cortland out-scored the Hawks 14-1 and this game was pretty much over.
“The spurts came out of what was available within our sets, and that was good recognition by the five guys on the floor and, our course, the guys executing the shot,” said Coach Spanbauer.
Cortland shot 54 percent in the first half including seven 3-pointers. McMahon made 8-of-10 shots for the game, while both Smith (7x14) and Manning (5x9) shared hot hands.
“Our numbers are all really good,” said Spanbauer, finding the final state sheet good reading. “We had 20 assists on 30 baskets, so guys are sharing the basketball and guys are recognized where the ball’s got to go. And we only had nine turnovers, and we were attacking it at some times. We tried to play fast, and if you can be under 10 turnovers when you’re trying to play up-tempo, it’s a good thing.”
A good thing would be winning the league out-right, which a weekend victory would accomplish the Red Dragons. Getting to host the conference finals is a good thing, too, considering Cortland is an unbeaten 10-0 at Corey Gym.
“That’s a nice achievement for the guys,” said Coach Spanbauer, going unbeaten at home among the many goals his Red Dragons had going into this season. “Anytime you can win in our league, or win in any college season, all your home games that’s really special.”
Posting back-to-back 20-win campaigns is also special, the Red Dragons 22-7 a year ago when they lost in the conference title game to Oswego. That stretch of success hasn’t happened since Cortland squads from 1998-99 (23-7), 1999-2000 (24-5) and 2000-01 (21-7).
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