CORTLAND, N.Y. – Cortland (22-4) shot 51.1 percent from the field, while hitting 12 three-pointers on Friday night to oust the Oswego State men’s basketball team (19-8), 65-54, in the SUNYAC Semifinals at Cortland. The season ends for the Lakers, while the 25th-ranked Red Dragons move on to the SUNYAC Final to face Plattsburgh in a battle of top seeds.
Sean Michele (Sr., East Rochester, N.Y.) was feeling it early, scoring the first five points for the Lakers. However, Cortland showed the Lakers how it earned the No. 1 seed with tenacious defense and precise long-range shooting. The Red Dragons made 7-of-16 three-pointers in the half.
Cortland’s Brian Manning went 3-for-5 from downtown in the opening half to power the Red Dragon attack. Floor general Jesse Winter led Cortland with scoring with 10 points, but committed three turnovers and only registered one assist.
The Lakers only turned it over once in the stanza (three times in the contest), while their opponents recorded six turnovers. Clean offense kept Oswego State close, despite shooting 37.5 percent (12-32) from the field in the stanza.
Trailing 26-18 with just over two minutes left, the Lakers closed on a 10-3 run. A deep three-pointer by Michele sparked the charge before freshman Kyle Covley (Penfield, N.Y.) made his presence felt off the bench by scoring the last four Laker points. With less than 10 seconds on the clock, he stole the ball and went coast-to-coast for a layup as time expired, sending the Lakers into the break trailing by just one at 29-28.
The second half started with a back-and-forth battle, but the Red Dragons were able to pick apart the Laker zone for a 14-3 run to push the lead to 46-33. From there, Jeremy Smith quelled any attempt at a Laker comeback with his three-point shooting. Both he and Jesse Winter buried four treys in the contest, scoring 17 and 18 points, respectively. The Red Dragons continually made the extra pass to find the open man, leading to 57.1 percent shooting in the second half.
Hayden Ward (Sr., Montauk, N.Y.) paced the Laker attack with 16 points and 12 rebounds in his last game in an Oswego State uniform. Daniel Ross (Jr., Syracuse, N.Y.) and Michele scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, as the only other Lakers in double digits.
The Lakers were not able to find their range from downtown in the loss, shooting 26.9 percent (7-26) in the contest. However, their opposition hit 12-of-25 attempts (48.0 percent).