OSWEGO, N.Y. – It has been over 50 years, but the Oswego State men’s basketball team can call itself State University of New York Athletic Conference champions once again.
The Lakers (25-3) capped off a perfect regular season and a 3-0 tournament run with a thrilling 66-57 win over second-seeded Cortland (21-7) at Max Ziel Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.
The fifth conference title in school history clinched the Lakers’ their second straight and second-ever trip to the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championships with official brackets being announced on Monday at noon.
Oswego State earned the title thanks in part to strong efforts by tournament MVP Chad Burridge (Sr., Hannibal, N.Y.) and fellow all-tournament selection Hayden Ward (Jr., Montauk, N.Y.).
The duo scored all the points during a 12-0 run in the second half that turned a Cortland 34-30 lead into an Oswego State 42-34 advantage. From that point on, the Lakers led by at least three points the rest of the way.
The game began with a 7-0 run by the Lakers, but Cortland fired back with a 12-0 run of its own after Oswego State missed six straight field goal attempts.
Ward helped slow the run with a bucket inside at the 12-minute mark, but the Red Dragons would keep the lead until late in the first half.
Oswego State seemed to gain momentum when Burridge blocked a shot out of bounds and then scored inside to tie the game at 21 with 3:12 left in the half. Ward followed that with four straight free throws to give the Lakers a 25-21 lead.
However, Cortland scored the final bucket of the first half and began the second half red hot from three-point range. The Dragons hit three quick triples and took a 32-28 lead. But, a third foul of Cortland big-man Kevin McMahon gave the Lakers the green light to go inside.
Burridge scored nine of the Lakers’ next 11 points, while Ward added the other six, putting Oswego up 43-34 with 10:22 left.
Cortland was able to stay in the game, though, and McMahon came off the bench to score four quick points followed by a hoop by Harrison Hefele to trim the gap to 53-50 with three minutes left.
However, a second-chance layup by Ward with 1:42 to play and a pair of free throws from the junior with a minute left pushed the lead back to 57-50 before the Lakers sealed the nine-point win at the free throw line.
Ward finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds, while Burridge added 18 points and seven rebounds. Sean Michele (Sr., East Rochester, N.Y.) finished with nine points on six-of-six free throw shooting. The Lakers hit 22 of 26 from the line during the game.
Cortland was led by Jeremy Smith’s 13 points and three others in double-digits.
This was the Lakers’ fifth conference title in school history and their first since winning back-to-back titles in 1964 and 1965.
The Lakers will find out their next match-up during the Division III selection show that can be seen Monday at noon at www.ncaa.com. The Lakers are hoping to host first- and second-round games for the second straight season.
SUNYAC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Oswego State – Hayden Ward (Jr.), and Chad Burridge (Sr.) – MVP
Cortland – Jeremy Smith (Jr.) and Jesse Winter (Jr.)
Geneseo – Ryan Riefenhauser (Jr.)
Brockport – John Ivy (So.)
Cortland vs Oswego State
2/25/12 4 p.m. at Oswego, N.Y./Max Ziel Gymnasium
At Oswego, N.Y./Max Ziel Gymnasium
OSWEGO STATE 66, CORTLAND 57
SMITH, Jeremy 5-14 0-0 13; WINTER, Jesse 5-13 0-0 11; MANNING, Brian 4-9 0-0
11; McMAHON, Kevin 5-9 0-0 10; HEFELE, Harrison 3-8 0-1 7; STERNKOPF, Dan
2-2 0-4 4; SUTEDJO, Nick 0-2 1-2 1; SPENDJIAN, Garen 0-2 0-0 0; KEARNEY,
Maurice 0-1 0-0 0; CONNOLLY, John 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-60 1-7 57.
OSWEGO STATE (25-3)
WARD, Hayden 7-9 10-11 24; BURRIDGE, Chad 7-17 3-4 18; MICHELE, Sean 1-3 6-6
9; GILKES, Chris 2-3 1-2 6; SHERIDAN, Ryan 2-4 1-1 6; DELFINO, Josh 1-3 0-0
2; GEBHARDT, Brian 0-0 1-2 1; MONAGHAN, Conor 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 20-42 22-26
Cortland…………………. 23 34 – 57
Oswego State……………… 25 41 – 66
3-point goals–Cortland 8-28 (MANNING, Brian 3-8; SMITH, Jeremy 3-8; WINTER,
Jesse 1-5; HEFELE, Harrison 1-4; SPENDJIAN, Garen 0-1; SUTEDJO, Nick 0-1;
McMAHON, Kevin 0-1), Oswego State 4-14 (BURRIDGE, Chad 1-6; SHERIDAN, Ryan
1-3; GILKES, Chris 1-1; MICHELE, Sean 1-2; MONAGHAN, Conor 0-2).
Fouled out–Cortland-McMAHON, Kevin; HEFELE, Harrison, Oswego State-None.
Rebounds–Cortland 32 (STERNKOPF, Dan 8), Oswego State 32 (WARD, Hayden 13).
Assists–Cortland 9 (WINTER, Jesse 6), Oswego State 9 (MONAGHAN, Conor 3).
Total fouls–Cortland 22, Oswego State 13. Technical fouls–Cortland-None, Oswego State-None. A-515
Oswego State earns automatic berth into NCAA Tournament.
Oswego State is ranked 14th in D3hoops.com poll.