January 7, 2009
Double trouble for Dragons
Clarkson hands Cortland 2nd consecutive OT loss
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland’s Mike Lewis puts up a shot over Clarkson’s George Koduah Tuesday night at Corey Gym, where the Red Dragons lost 55-54 in double overtime. Lewis had nine points and nine rebounds in the loss.
Double trouble arrived once again for the SUNY Cortland men’s basketball team Tuesday night.
For the second consecutive contest the Red Dragons were involved in some double overtime drama and were unable to come up with a happy ending.
This time around, Clarkson University pulled off a 55-54 double OT victory in a non-conference clash at Corey Gymnasium as the Red Dragons missed 11 crucial free throws on their home floor — including a pair that could have finished off the visitors in the final seconds of regulation.
It was the second time in the past four days that free throw woes have cost the Red Dragons. This latest frustration arrives after the Red Dragons misfired on 14 free throw chances in last Saturday’s 84-82 double overtime loss to the nationally-ranked Roanoke Maroons, who were hosting that Domino’s New Year’s Tournament title game in their Virginia backyard.
Cortland can only hope grueling games like this provide perfect preparation for the demands of SUNY Athletic Conference play, which resumes this weekend when the Red Dragons visit Geneseo on Friday before hosting Oswego Saturday night.
“We have to use these close games as a learning experience, as painful as they are,” said Cortland head coach Tom Spanbauer, as these double disappointments are the reason why his Red Dragons are 4-5 on the season instead of a more respectable 6-3.
Against a Clarkson team now off to an 8-2 start, Cortland held seven-point leads in both halves, jumped ahead by four points in the first OT stanza and scored the opening basket in the second five-minute extra period. But on an evening when neither side shot well — Cortland making just 29 percent of its shots while the visitors only made a third of their attempts — 6-foot-6 junior Elson Pickering from Clarkson made the second of two free throw chances with 1:13 left in the second OT to break a 54-54 deadlock with the game’s final point.
Cortland had chances to regain the lead in the final minute go awry, including last second off-target shots by Carson Niehoff and Willie Coston.
“It looked like two tired teams out there,” Spanbauer noted. Cortland was coming off its weekend trip to Virginia, while Clarkson’s Golden Knights were recovering from a 71-67 loss to the University of Rochester the previous evening when an abundance of energy was expended almost overcoming an 18-point second half deficit.
Weary legs may explain the poor shooting on both sides, though sophomore guard Ron Evans connected on 7-of-14 shots including a trio of 3-pointers to lead Cortland with 17 points while senior Niehoff made 8-of-10 free throws during a 13-point performance.
The rest of the Red Dragons were only 4-of-13 from the charity stripe.
“We’re not the best outside shooting team, as you can see,” said Clarkson coach Adam Stockwell, his crew just 1-for-15 from 3-point range, “but we find a way to put the ball in the basket.”
All nine Clarkson players scored in the victory, Brandon Linton leading the way with 12 points. Center center George Koduah — who arrived to the campus in Potsdam from the country of Ghana — tossed in 11 points and grabbed a dozen rebounds before fouling out.
“We’re happy, excuse my French, as hell to get out of here with a win,” said Stockwell.
FOR A WHILE, it looked like Niehoff might become the hero. His 17-foot jump shot swished off the dribble with 3:27 left in the second half put Cortland ahead 41-39 and led to a series of defensive stops on both ends of the court that kept the scoreboard stuck on those numbers.
Cortland center Mike Lewis grabbed a couple of key rebounds off the defensive glass, the 6-foot-6 junior with a team high nine rebounds, and Clarkson committed a pair of costly turnovers in the final minute of play.
But Clarkson finally made Cortland pay for its free throw woes, the Red Dragons coming into the game having shot a wayward 50 percent as a team from the stripe. When Cortland guard Juan Miolan failed to convert a pair of chances from the line with 10.4 seconds left to play in regulation, Clarkson junior guard Brandon Linton raced end-to-end to score on a drive and turn this game into an overtime adventure.
The first OT was tied up at 46-46 when Niehoff was fouled in driving to the basket with 8.9 nine seconds left, and made both to put Cortland ahead. That’s when the Red Dragons were whistled for fouling Linton as he dribbled past midcourt moments later, and the junior from Queens hit two free throws to force another extra session.
Evans drove for the opening basket in the second OT, his final points giving the Red Dragons their last lead. Baskets by Paul Oliver and Coston tied things up at 52-all and 54-all before the Pickering free throw, after being fouled working the offensive boards, proved to be the winning margin.
In the final minute, a traveling call wiped out one Cortland possession. Evans stole a pass in the lane to give the Red Dragons a final chance, but that came up empty, too.
“Out guys are getting the looks they need to get. We just have to do a better job finishing, and that means making lay-ups and free throws,” said Spanbauer. “If you don’t execute fundamental plays, making lay-ups and free throws, you don’t win at any level of basketball.”
Clarkson 55, Cortland 54, 2 OT
Clarkson (8-2) 55: Salanger 2-7 0-0 5, Linton 4-13 4-5 12, Murray 2-6 2-2 6, Smith 2-6 0-0 4, Koduah 4-5 3-4 11, Llanos 15 0-0 2, Hood 3-6 0-0 6, Jefferson 1-2 0-0 2, Pickering 1-10 5-6 7. Team totals: 20-61 14-17 55
Cortland (4-5) 54: Evans 7-14 0-0 17, Coston 3-16 0-1 6, Lewis 4-9 1-4 9, Miolan 0-5 2-4 2, Oliver 2-7 1-2 5, Sutedjo 0-2 0-0 0, Niehoff 2-8 8-10 13, Milke 1-4 0-2 2. Team totals: 19-65 12-23 54
Clarkson Unversity 23 18 7 7 — 55
SUNY Cortland 23 18 7 6 — 54
3-point goals: Clarkson (1-15)- Salanger 1-5, Linton 0-1, Murray 0-2, Llanos 0-4, Pickering 0-3. Cortland (4-13)- Evans 3-6, Coston 0-2, Miolan 0-1, Sutedjo 0-2, Niehoff 1-2
Rebounds: Clarkson 47 (Kuduah 12, Murray 11), Cortland 41 (Lewis 9). Assists: Cortland 8 (Coston 3), Clarkson 7 (Linton 4). Team fouls: Cortland 20, Clarkson 18. Fouled out: Koduah (Clarkson)
Officials: McEvoy, Heppler, Maher
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