New Paltz opened up a 15-point lead in the first half and held off a Cortland push in the second half as the Hawks defeated the host Red Dragons, 67-61, in SUNYAC men’s basketball action.
Prior to the game, Cortland honored seniors William Lee Moore, Zach Lydon, Nicky Bonura and Justin Cooper, who were playing in their final regular-season home game.
With the outcome, Cortland and New Paltz remain in part of a five-team logjam for positions three through seven in the SUNYAC standings. Cortland (16-7, 10-6 SUNYAC) is tied for third with Brockport, with New Paltz (14-9, 9-7 SUNYAC) in fifth place. Potsdam (8-8) is sixth and Oneonta (7-8) is seventh. The top six teams qualify for the playoffs, with the third and fourth-place teams hosting first-round games next Tuesday. Oswego and Plattsburgh are guaranteed the league’s top two spots and byes into the semifinals. Cortland wraps the regular season with road games at Geneseo Friday and Brockport Saturday.
Cooper led Cortland versus the Hawks with 24 points and 13 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season. He made 10-of-14 shots from the field and was 4-for-4 at the foul line. Bonura scored 12 points and handed out three assists and Brendan Fitzpatrick scored seven points and tied his career highs with six rebounds and three steals.
Tristan Wissemann led New Paltz with 19 points and Isaiah Bien-Aise scored 18 points and had three steals. They each made three 3-pointers. Scott Reisert led the Hawks on the boards with nine rebounds, followed by Paddy Parr with eight, Bien-Aise with seven and Wissemann with six. Cory Garcia scored nine points and led the team with seven assists.
New Paltz shot 40 percent overall and 35 percent from the arc (9-of-26). Cortland ended at 36 percent overall and 20 percent (4-of-20) from long distance.
New Paltz outscored Cortland 44-19 over the middle two quarters to break open a close game and the SUNYAC-leading Hawks defeated the Red Dragons, 81-57.
Prior to the game, Cortland honored seniors Alaina Lynch, Megan Howell, Tanna Mohammed, Justine Crespo, Shelby Dugan, Kristy Vitucci and Shana Crespo, who were playing in their final regular-season home game. Joka Oyefeso is also a senior on the team but is expected to return to play next season.
New Paltz (19-4, 15-1 SUNYAC) won its 15th straight game and clinched the top seed for next week’s SUNYAC tournament. The Hawks are first in the latest NCAA Division III East Region rankings. Cortland dropped to 8-8 in the conference and 12-11 overall. The Red Dragons are currently fourth in the league but in a tight race for the fourth through seventh spots in the standings. Cortland sits a half game ahead of Fredonia (8-9), a game ahead of Plattsburgh (7-9) and two games ahead of Brockport (6-10) with two games remaining this weekend at Geneseo Friday and Brockport Saturday.
The top six teams qualify for the SUNYAC playoffs, with the third and fourth-place teams hosting first-round games next Tuesday.
Shana Crespo led Cortland with a season-high 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting and she tied her career best with four assists. (Justine Crespo and Vitucci each scored 10 points, and Vitucci led the Red Dragons with six rebounds.
Rachel Simon and Lindsay Bettke led New Paltz with 15 points each and Marion Dietz scored 13 points. Simon finished 6-of-8 from the field and Bettke made three of her seven 3-point attempts.
The Hawks led 42-27 at halftime and extended the margin to 27 points at 61-34 after three quarters. Cortland outscored New Paltz 23-20 in the fourth quarter. New Paltz finished the game shooting 55 percent from the field and 44 percent (7-of-16) from 3-point range. Cortland shot 39 percent overall and 47 percent (7-of-15) from the arc.