February 22, 2012
Home court works for Dragons
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland’s Brian Manning (24) is closely guarded by Plattsburgh’s Jordan Moody (23) in the second half of Tuesday’s playoff game at Corey Gym. Cortland advanced with 75-60 win, junior Manning scoring 12 points.
Finally pulling away from pesky Plattsburgh, SUNY Cortland men kept up the conference status quo on opening night of the basketball playoffs.
The Red Dragons’ 75-60 victory over the visiting Cardinals at Corey Gymnasium was part of a Tuesday evening playoff scenario where the four highest-seeded teams all advanced with SUNY Athletic Conference quarterfinal round home court success stories.
Not that being the favorite — the Red Dragons (20-6) seeded second in this post-season tournament that will crown a champion Saturday afternoon in Oswego — is all that easy.
Even after junior guards Jeremy Winter and Jeremy Smith continued their recent offensive excellence with 20 and 18 respective points including a trio of 3-pointers apiece; even after junior Brian Manning came up with 12 points and six rebounds while sophomore forward Kevin McMahon contributed nine points, six rebounds and five blocked shots in their roles as vital Cortland back-ups; winning Cortland coach Tom Spanbauer offered this opinion of first round playoff match-ups.
“I really do think there’s more pressure playing at home, even though the home court advantage is suppose to be your friend,” said Spanbauer, who is in his 17th season running things at his alma mater where he also excelled as a player. “Then you have that two-seven match-up, and there’s not a lot of pressure on that seventh place team. So it’s all good. I thought our guys hung in there and we rebounded the ball a little better in the second half, and I thought that was crucial.”
This game was up for grabs at halftime, when the fifth tie over the opening 20 minutes had the teams knotted at 32-32.
“I know it was tough in the beginning. Guys were a little nervous or whatnot. It’s tough to beat a team three times, like I said to one of my teammates earlier,” said back-up guard Nick Sutedjo, the lone senior on this Cortland roster who finished with seven points, two assists and a couple of rebounds in his 16 minutes of court time. “But we just stuck together and kept doing what we’re suppose to do. We stuck to the game plan and came out with the win.”
The win puts Cortland in the SUNYAC Final Four, being hosted Friday and Saturday by top-seeded regular season champion Oswego. The Red Dragons will face third-seed Geneseo (14-12) at 6 p.m. in Friday’s opening semifinal, with Oswego (23-2) taking on fourth-seed Brockport (14-12) at 8 p.m.
The championship game will be at 4 p.m. Saturday.
PLATTSBURGH (8-18) PROVIDED a helping hand to Cortland pulling away for a sixth consecutive victory.
After going a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the opening half, a Cardinal squad ranked last in the conference in free throw shooting percentage missed seven times from the stripe after the break. Too many unforced errors for Coach Tom Curle’s liking were part of the Cardinals’ 14 turnovers, too.
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