January 23, 2012


Late Lakers rally beats Red Dragons at buzzer

OSWEGO — On the verge of handing first place Oswego its first conference setback, the SUNY Cortland men’s basketball team had a disastrous finish to Saturday night’s showdown.
Oswego closed the game by scoring 11 unanswered points, finished off by Hayden Ward’s 18-foot jump shot at the buzzer, to pull out a 69-67 victory over the Red Dragons in a match-up of the top two SUNY Athletic Conference teams.
It was the 22nd consecutive regular-season conference victory for the Lakers, who are a perfect 8-0 in conference play and 12-3 overall.
Cortland had a three-game winning streak snapped and drops to 11-5 overall. Coach Tom Spanbauer’s squad is now in a three-way tie for second in the conference, along with Buffalo State and Geneseo at 6-3.
With the game tied at 67-67, Oswego forced Cortland into a shot-clock violation and gained possession with 2.3 seconds showing on the Ziel Gymnasium scoreboard. Ward caught a long pass from Chad Burridge about 25 feet from the basket, dribbled by a defender, jump-stopped inside the 3-point line and hit the winning jumper as time expired.
Ward led the Lakers with 18 points and grabbed six rebounds. He was one of five Oswego double-figure scorers. Chris Gilkes finished with 14 points, Burridge tallied 12 points and nine rebounds, Sean Michele scored 12 points and Ryan Sheridan added 10 points. Michele made 4-of-6 three-pointers.
Junior guards Jeremy Smith and Jesse Winter led Cortland with 21 and 20 points, respectively. Smith hit 7-of-11 shots, including 5-of-7 3-pointers. Winter was a perfect 9-for-9 from the free throw line and had a team-best five assists. Junior Brian Manning made 3-of-4 treys and ended with nine points and six rebounds.
Cortland led 24-17 with 6:53 left in the first half and 31-29 at halftime. Neither team led by more than five points the first 16 minutes of the second half.
Sheridan buried a 3-pointer with 4:32 left to draw Oswego within one at 59-58. The Red Dragons responded with an 8-0 run over the next minute to take their largest lead at 67-58. Smith hit a trey to start the streak, followed by two Winter free throws after an Oswego bench technical foul and a Harrison Hefele 3-pointer.
Oswego began its winning run with a Sheridan lay-up and a Michele 3-pointer, the latter with 2:04 left. Burridge made two foul shots with 1:21 left to cut the Cortland lead to two and he tied the game with a lay-up with just under 40 seconds left — setting the stage for Ward’s heroics.
Cortland shot 58 percent (11-of-19) from 3-point range, but only 39 percent overall from the field. The Red Dragons will look to bounce back at Brockport on Tuesday.


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