January 5, 2012
Nazareth shoots down Red Dragons
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Harrison Hefele of SUNY Cortland is fouled as he takes a shot over Scott Hayford of Nazareth on Wednesday. Though Hefele scored 12 points, the Red Dragons lost 87-56.
Prior to the start of second semester play, opponents were shooting only 36 percent from the floor against SUNY Cortland.
That’s what makes the 58-point first half barrage Nazareth College put on the Red Dragons in Wednesday night’s non-conference men’s basketball gathering that much more impressive, as the visiting Golden Flyers cruised to an 87-56 victory at Corey Gymnasium.
“The game is so much easier when you make shots,” noted Nazareth coach Kevin Broderick, whose team shot 65 percent from the floor over those opening 20 minutes. That included making 10-of-13 attempts — a torrid 77 percent — from beyond the 3-point arc.
These are the same Golden Flyers (6-4) who wrapped up 2011 with three consecutive losses prior to facing a confident Red Dragon crew that had won eight of their first 10 games.
“We feel like we have shot-makers on our team,” added Broderick, who is accustomed to having close battles with Cortland when he was on the SUNY Oswego sidelines for 11 seasons prior to moving on to coach at his alma mater three years ago. “The thing that was the most impressive about Cortland coming into tonight was their field goal percentage defense. I didn’t expect to score 80-something on them, that’s for sure.”
Crafty lefty Jason Corletta had a game-high 22 points, Brad Ford 21 points and 10 rebounds and steady senior point guard Tyshun Stephens 19 points, five assists and no turnovers in shooting down the Red Dragons.
Those Golden Eagles were combined 10-for-21 shooting treys, too — with Ford’s 5-for-6 accuracy leading the way. The trio came into the game all shooting better than 40 percent from long-range.
Cortland’s consolation prize would be out-scoring Nazareth 35-29 after intermission, though that didn’t put much of a dent into a 58-21 halftime deficit. The Red Dragons, who only resumed practice on Monday following their holiday break, shot just 34 percent from the floor and were 0-for-8 launching 3s in that nightmarish opening stanza.
Junior guard Harrison Hefele, back in the line-up after missing four games while recovering from a concussion, was the only Cortland player in double figures with 12 points. Ten of those came in the second half, starting with the Red Dragons’ first 3-pointer of the game on the opening possession.
“THE LESSON THAT we will talk to the guys about is you have to come out ready to play,” said Cortland coach Tom Spanbauer after the first of five consecutive home games. “We weren’t at the same intensity, or didn’t match the speed they were playing at, and basically they got really comfortable. They were 10-of-13 from the arc, but there were no contested shots. If you don’t come out and you don’t match the other team’s speed, a good team like Nazareth that shoots it, they’re going to make shots.”
Make shots Nazareth did in an opening half where Cortland was within 10-8 on guard Jeremy Smith’s pull-up jumper nearly four minutes into the game. When Coach Spanbauer called his second time-out of the opening half with 5:50 to play, the Nazareth lead had swelled to 44-16. And the Golden Flyers emerged from that break in the action to get another Corletta 3-pointer.
Six of the final nine baskets made in the opening half by Nazareth were treys, while the Red Dragons managed just a lone free throw over the final three minutes.
Hefele scored Cortland’s opening eight points, senior guard Nick Sutedjo provided some defensive intensity and junior point guard Jesse Winter knocked down a couple of 3-pointers in a more competitive second half. A Sutedjo 3-point swish in transition with just over four minutes remaining pulled Cortland as close as it would get at 78-54, with Nazareth responding by scoring the next six points before Coach Broderick began emptying his bench.
“We were just a step behind them in the first half, but I felt we came out and matched their intensity level in the second half. That’s the positive we have to take,” said Spanbauer. “We didn’t shoot a free throw in the second half, so that’s a sign of settling for the path of least resistance. We knew we have to get to the free throw line, that we have to attack guys.”
CORTLAND’S DEFENSE did block seven shots in the game, 6-foot-9 senior center Dan Sternkopf with four of those swats. But Nazareth dominated the backboards 36-22 and came up with six steals to keep the hosts in check.
Trailing by 37 points at halftime, Spanbauer’s locker room plea was simple. “We just said we need to play,” he noted.
“They knew they came out and they weren’t ready. Maybe we didn’t do a good enough job of preparing them to play as well, but there are some things that have to happen at a player’s level,” he added. “But we’re all involved in it. We have to address it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Cortland, perched in second place in the SUNY Athletic Conference standings, resumes league play Saturday when Geneseo visits at 4 p.m. Cortland and defending conference champion Geneseo women tip-off that Corey Gym twinbill at 2 p.m.
Nazareth — which had two impressive wins over Rochester on its resume while getting off to a 5-1 start to this season — hopes to carry this hot hand into Empire 8 league play.
“This was just a very unusual game. As many times as I’ve competed against Cortland, it’s never been like this,”summed up winning coach Broderick. “But we’ve all had games when you can’t miss no matter who’s guarding you.”
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