February 04, 2008


Last second shot does in Red Dragons

Sports Editor

Though lanky forward Mahamoud Jabbi is capable of making a long range shot now and then, the 6-foot-7 sophomore does his best work on a basketball court displaying a soft left-handed shooting touch much closer to the rim.
But to the chagrin of SUNY Cortland men, Jabbi took advantage of a defensive gamble that went awry and swished a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds on the clock to give visiting Oswego a dramatic 77-74 victory in Saturday’s showdown of red-hot SUNY Athletic Conference clubs.
Cortland, sitting in second place in the East Division standings, had come into the game winners in 10 of its last 11 games. Oswego, sitting in second place in the West Division standings, came to town riding a five-game win streak.
No wonder this turned into an intense battle that featured 13 ties (including seven over the final eight minutes of play) and 15 lead changes.
The last deadlock was at 74-74 when Cortland senior point guard Derrick Fish found a seam in the Oswego defense and scored on a lay-up with 48 seconds left to play. And after the Red Dragons got big defensive stop, Cortland used a timeout with 13 seconds left to plot its final strategy.
Those plans went astray when the Red Dragons threw the ball away with just four ticks showing on the Corey Gymnasium clock, a Fish look inside while being hounded by Oswego’s Marshall Jones going out of bounds. That untimely turnover gave the visitors a final chance. They made the most of it.
When Red Dragon defender Paul Oliver was unsuccessful in his bid to break-up a long pass pegged down court by Dom White, Jabbi was able to turn and launch the game-winner. It was not exactly the play Coach Kevin Broderick had in mind — “Nothing like it. That was not what we looked to execute,” said the Lakers 12th year head coach — but it was good enough to improve Oswego to 8-2 in conference play and 14-4 overall.
Jabbi’s heroics finished off a 23-point and 11-rebound performance for the Bronx native called “the most improved player in the conference” by his coach. Junior Tommy Downing tossed in 27 points, including making 6-of-10 shots from 3-point range, for the Lakers. The backcourt tandem of Kyle Reuter and Nick Perioli added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
“We let one wiggle off the hook,” said Cortland coach Tom Spanbauer, his team also 8-2 in the SUNYAC and 15-4 overall.
“Our guy’s effort was pretty good. There are just a few basketball things we have to clean up,” he added.
CORTLAND FOUND lots of success getting the ball inside to sophomore big men Oliver and Mike Lewis.
The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Oliver had 19 points and 10 rebounds, making 9-of-15 shots. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Lewis had 18 points and six rebounds, making 8-of-15 shots.
With junior Carson Niehoff coming off the bench to add 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including swishing both of his 3-point tries, Cortland finished the game shooting 54 percent from the floor.
What offset that accuracy was Oswego’s sharp-shooting from 3-point range, the Lakers 12-of-24 from beyond the arc.
“This is the second straight time a team came into our gym and shot the ball extremely well from the arc,” said Cortland’s Spanbauer, Morrisville having gone 10-for-28 from long range in a loss to the Red Dragons the previous evening. “We might have to look at the game planning we’re doing, because we can’t let teams come in here and shoot threes like that. Now some of the threes were from pretty deep, but we can’t let it happen.”
Downing made some really long-distance connections, while point guard Perioli out of Liverpool connected on a trio of treys and backcourter Reuter from Mexico landed a pair.
“That’s something we believe in, our ability to shoot the three, so in every game we’re going to shoot a lot of them,” said Oswego’s Broderick.
Cortland used an 11-0 run capped by a Lewis basket inside to build a 31-22 lead with 6:42 left in the first half, only to see Oswego come back with nine straight points including a Reuter 3-pointer to pull back even.
Jabbi swished a shot from the corner in the final minute of the opening half to put the Lakers up 37-35 at the break.
THOUGH OSWEGO grabbed a 48-41 lead with Downing and Reuter canning back-to-back treys, the second half soon developed into a frantic down-to-the-wire affair.
“It always seems to come down to the last possession,” said Broderick of these Cortland-Oswego outings. “I saw Frank Ranieri before the game and all I could think of was the 30-footer he threw in to beat us.”
Former Red Dragon forward Ranieri — who shot down Oswego two seasons ago on this same floor — was among the crowd that watched Cortland go ahead 61-59 on a Ron Evans 3-pointer, go ahead 63-61 on two Willie Coston free throws, go ahead 65-63 on a Lewis low-post move, go-ahead 67-65 on a Lewis bank shot and go ahead 69-67 on a Lewis lay-in off a Coston feed.
But Oswego hung tough and moved in front at 71-69 on a Jabbi lay-up off a Reuter assist with 2:58 left to play. Oliver tied the game with a drive, only to have Downing connect on a lengthy bomb from the right flank for a 74-71 Lakers edge with just over two minutes left.
An Oliver free throw made it a two-point Cortland deficit. After a Reuter shot rimmed out, Fish tied the game with his determined drive. When Downing missed a leaner in the lane, Cortland had its last chance at victory denied. After Jabbi’s connection and a Cortland timeout, a half court heave before the buzzer by Niehoff was off the mark.
Now Cortland looks to bounce back on a three-game road trip, beginning at West Conference leading Brockport Tuesday night.
“It’s a challenge to see how we’re going to respond,” said Spanbauer after the loss. “Guys talk about being an upper level team. Our guys are going to have to prove it on the road next week.”




Big opening half boost to Cortland women

Sports Editor

Opponents should not feel too sorry for this SUNY Cortland women’s basketball team, which played its second consecutive game without injured starting point guard Maggie Byrne.
In a rematch of last year’s SUNY Athletic Conference playoff title game, a big first half spurt sparked by sophomore Jessica Laing carried the defending champion Red Dragons to a 60-46 victory over Oswego Saturday night.
Conference scoring leader Laing had 19 of her game-high 24 points in the opening half when the East Division leaders rolled to a 38-21 lead. The Red Dragons shot 48 percent on the Corey Gymnasium home floor over those impressive opening 20 minutes.
Oswego did get to within eight points and seven points during the second half, though Cortland pretty much enjoyed a double-digit advantage. Senior forward Sara Cavanaugh finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds while junior guard Kristin Ciccone tossed in 11 points as the Red Dragons improved to 9-1 in the conference play and 15-2 overall.
“We’re doing some things better, we just have to do it for two halves,” said Coach Jeannette Yeoman, Cortland shooting just 26 percent from the floor after intermission.
Oswego, now 4-6 in the conference and 9-9 overall, just did not have the offensive firepower to take advantage of Red Dragon second half shooting woes. Heather Merino was the lone visitor in double figures with 14 points, guard Rachel Kohrs and senior center Sarah Lombard adding eight points off the bench. Lombard, still recovering from a serious knee injury suffered last year, grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds in just 19 minutes of court time.
It was good to see Cortland click early with Byrne a spectator on the bench, braces on both wrists that were sprained taking a tumble in last Tuesday’s road loss at Geneseo. The junior will undergo more tests this week to determine when she will be able to return, though Coach Yeoman says: “We have to prepare for the worst.”
SUNYAC East Division leader Cortland will prepare without Byrne for a stiff test on Tuesday, traveling to face a Brockport squad currently in first place in the West Division standings.
“We definitely have a loss to the team, but we’re working it out. We’re still good,” said team captain Cavanaugh, whose work off the defensive boards down the stretch loomed large.
“We do miss her,” she added of Byrne, who averaged 10.5 points and four assists per game as well as being the team leader in 3-point shooting.




Dragons move up behind comeback

This remarkable second semester climb up the conference standings continues for the SUNY Cortland men’s hockey team, thanks to a remarkable comeback Saturday night.
The Red Dragons scored four unanswered goals, including three in the third period, to erase a two-goal deficit and defeat visiting Geneseo 6-4 at Alumni Arena.
The comeback has the Red Dragons at 6-6-1 in the SUNY Athletic Conference, tied for fourth place with three games remaining in the regular season. The top six teams advance to the playoffs.
Cortland stands 11-9-2 overall and has gone 8-1-1 over its last 10 _contests.
Geneseo falls to 5-8 on the conference and 6-15 overall, the Knights in seventh place and one point out of the sixth and final playoff spot.
Sophomore Patrick Palmisano led the Red Dragons with two goals and an assist. Junior Nick Catanzaro recorded a goal and two assists, and freshman Jarrett Gold added a goal and an assist.
Seniors Matt Goslant and Barry McLaughlin each contributed a goal. Junior goalie Mike Mistretta made 26 saves to run his season record to 10-6-2.
Senior Trent Cassan tallied twice and senior Mathieu Cyr picked up three assists for Geneseo, while sophomores Dan Brown and Phil Rose also scored.
Red Dragon Palmisano opened the scoring just 1:22 into the game with a one-timer right in front. The Knights evened the game at 1-1 less than four minutes later when Brown knocked in a loose puck in front.
The Red Dragons pressured late in the period and earned a penalty shot at 19:13 after a hooking penalty by a Geneseo player on a breakaway. Geneseo goalie Derek Jokic denied freshman Graham Fallon’s attempt to keep the game tied.
Early in the second period, the Knights killed off a two-minute two-tan disadvantage, but Cortland pulled ahead at the 5:49 mark on Goslant’s one-timer at the left post.
Geneseo answered with a three-goal barrage in a 3:14 span to take a 4-2 lead. Cassan scored back-to-back power-play goals 26 seconds apart, and Rose scored on a wrist shot with the teams skating four aside.
After a Cortland penalty late in the second, McLaughlin took a pass from sophomore Craig Cole (ho forced a turnover in the neutral zone) and beat Jokic one-on-one on the stick side after skating through two Geneseo players to make it 4-3 entering the third period.
Gold tied the game with his team-high 12th goal of the season on a one-timer in front at 2:51. Catanzaro netted the game-winner at 11:21 when he finished off a pass from Palmisano on the rush.
Late in the game, the Knights pressed for the equalizer, and when Cortland was whistled for a penalty with 1:27 remaining, Jokic was pulled for an extra skater. Palmisano, however, iced the game with a rink-long shot that just slid over the goal line with 44 seconds remaining.