January 27, 2016

Victory eludes Dragons in OT

GENESEO — Victory agonizingly slipped from the grasp of the SUNY Cortland men’s basketball team on Tuesday night.
The Red Dragons squandered a late lead and fell 92-89 in overtime at Geneseo in a crucial SUNY Athletic Conference confrontation, as Justin Ringen went off for 38 points for the victorious hosts — including the two free throws with five seconds left that sent this game into overtime.
Cortland had overcome a double-digit first half deficit at Schrader Gymnasium, and used a 10-0 second half spurt capped by JP Reagan’s 3-point swish to move ahead 67-56 with 3:32 left to play.
The Red Dragons could not finish off the Knights, however.
The hosts also rallied after Cortland opened overtime with four unanswered points, as Geneseo guard John Decker scored 10 of his 19 points in the extra five-minute period.
Senior Blair Estarfaa led the Red Dragons with 23 points including a handful of treys, Cortland now 5-3 in conference play and 11-4 overall. Freshman guard Justin Cooper added 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and four assists.
Cortland point guard Shayne Martinez added 12 points, including clutch 6-for-6 free throw perfection that seemed to have the Red Dragons headed for victory. He also got to seven rebounds and dished out a pair of assists.
Reagan finished with 10 points and four rebounds before fouling out, while starting Cortland center Carrel Joseph matched Cooper’s team-high of seven rebounds.
Geneseo, which pulled out a 76-75 win at Cortland earlier this season on a late Decker basket, is 6-3 in conference play and 12-4 overall.
The Red Dragons built that late 67-56 advantage by going on a 10-0 run that featured a Reagan layup, a TJ Hefele 3-pointer, a Cooper layup and a Reagan 3-pointer. Geneseo, however, quickly got within five points on a Ringen 3-point play and a Connor Keenan 3-pointer.
Estarfaa made a trey to push the lead to eight with 1:32 left. Keenan hit a layup and was fouled with 1:13 left. He missed the free throw, but Ringen grabbed the offensive rebound and scored to cut the Cortland lead to 70-66.
Martinez made four free throws in the next 40 seconds, including two at the 0:29 mark that gave Cortland a 74-69 lead. Crockett sank two free throws with 20 seconds left after drawing a foul before an in-bounds play got started, and Decker stole the ensuing in-bounds pass and scored with 19 seconds remaining to cut the Red Dragons’ lead to 74-73.
Hefele made 1-of-2 free throws with 16 seconds left to give Cortland a two-point edge. Ringen was fouled coming off a screen on the perimeter with five seconds left and hit both free throws to tie the game.
Cortland missed a long 3-pointer at the buzzer and this game was headed to OT.
In overtime, Cortland grabbed an early four-point lead on a Joseph layup and two Martinez free throws. The Red Dragons were up 84-81 after Michael Kelly hit two foul shots with 2:04 left.
That’s when Decker tied the game with a clutch 3-pointer and, after a Cortland turnover, Kevin Crockett hit a jumper from the right baseline to put Geneseo ahead.
Cortland came up empty on its next possession and Decker made two free throws with 29 seconds left to give the hosts an 88-84 advantage.
Estarfaa nailed a long trey with 22 seconds left to cut the deficit to one. Decker responded with two more free throws with 13 seconds left. Geneseo then elected to foul Estarfaa in a non-shooting situation beyond the arc with four seconds left instead of allowing an attempt at a tying 3-pointer.
Estarfaa made both foul shots, but Geneseo was able to connect on a long, breakaway in-bounds pass that led to an intentional foul and two CJ Burke free throws with a second left to close the scoring. The Knights maintained possession and chewed up the final seconds.
Forward Ringen hit 12-of-22 shots from the floor and all 11 of his free throws, Geneseo making 23-of-27 free throws for the game. Decker added seven assists and five rebounds to his 19-point outing, while Crockett finished with 10 points including his go-ahead shot in OT.
Now sitting in fourth place in the SUNYAC standings, Cortland hosts second-place Oneonta Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Corey Gymnasium.

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