February 25, 2012
Smith puts on a show
Carries Dragons to finals with 37-point barrage
OSWEGO — SUNY Cortland guard Jeremy Smith has always been an explosive scorer, but the junior out of the Bronx has never had a basketball performance quite like this one.
On the SUNY Athletic Conference playoff semifinal stage Friday night, Smith stole the spotlight with a career-best 37-point performance that carried the Red Dragons to a 68-59 victory over Geneseo at Max Ziel Gymnasium.
Smith set a tournament record by making nine shots from beyond the 3-point range, out of a dozen attempts, as second-seed Cortland (21-6) advanced to face Final Four host and top-seed Oswego (24-2) in the 4 p.m. championship game this afternoon.
Coach Tom Spanbauer’s squad will take a seven-game winning streak into the title game, the Red Dragons in the finals for the first time since 2001 and chasing after their first conference crown since 2000.
The SUNYAC playoff champion earns an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III tournament, too.
Oswego, ranked 14th nationally in Division III, remained unbeaten against conference foes by beating Brockport 64-57 in the second semifinal game played at Ziel Gymnasium last night.
Cortland’s Smith came into the game on a bit of a roll. He scored 26 points in a victory over Buffalo State last Saturday to close out the regular season and netted 18 in this past Tuesday’s semifinal victory over Plattsburgh.
And in a game where three Cortland starters went scoreless, Smith’s 12-of-16 shooting touch came in handy along with making all four of his free throw attempts. He broke the tournament record with a clutch 3-pointer from the top of the key with 59 seconds left to play — Cortland clinging to a four-point lead at the time — and then closed the show with a pair of free throw swishes 30 seconds from the finish.
Smith broke the previous conference tournament mark of eight treys set by Oswego’s Jeff Robbins in 2003. Smith has also already tied the record for most 3-pointers made in an entire SUNYAC tournament with a dozen over Cortland’s first two games.
Smith’s long-range shooting fell one 3-pointer shy of Cortland’s single-game school record of 10 set by Dave Maggiacomo in the 2006-07 season at Fredonia.
Junior Brian Manning finished with 14 points and six rebounds of the bench for the Red Dragons, including hitting 4-of-10 shots from beyond the arc. Junior point guard Jesse Winter contributed eight points and seven assists and sophomore forward Kevin McMahon blocked a career-high five shots for the second straight game.
The 10 blocks in two games by the 6-foot-6 McMahon are one short of tying the tournament record.
Cortland shot 15-of-30 as a team from behind the 3-point arc against Oswego. The Red Dragons missed the SUNYAC tournament record for made 3-pointers by one — Oswego hitting 16 treys in the 2003 game against Oneonta in which Robbins made his previous record eight.
Jordan Jones led third-seed Geneseo (14-13) with 13 points. Matt Curry scored 12 points and Ryan Riefenhauser finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
Smith scored 19 first-half points to help Cortland take a 33-29 halftime lead. The Red Dragons grabbed their largest lead at 44-34 on a Smith 3-pointer with 15:50 left, but Geneseo scored the next 10 points, the first eight by Curry, and tied the game at 44-44 with 11:36 remaining.
Leading 55-54 with just over four minutes, Cortland extended its lead to four on a Manning 3-pointer. Geneseo responded with a Connor Fedge lay-up at the 3:27 mark, but Red Dragon senior Nick Sutedjo buried a three-pointer with 2:53 left to put Cortland up four.
Riefenhauser made 1-of-2 free throws with 1:29 left to keep the Knights within four, but Smith nailed his ninth 3-pointer of the night with 59 seconds remaining to put Cortland ahead by seven and close the door on Geneseo.
Oswego 64, Brockport 57: Oswego will be looking for its first SUNYAC title since 1965 after getting past Brockport, senior Ryan Sheridan capping a team-high 15-point showing with a clutch 3-point shot from the corner with 25 seconds left to put the Lakers up 61-55.
Oswego, which made nine treys in the game, avenged an upset loss to Brockport in last year’s semifinals.
Chad Burridge added 14 points and 13 rebounds for Oswego, while Conor Monaghan finished with 11 points and four assists. Brockport was led by John Ivy’s 16 points, while its leading scorer Kyheem Green ended up with 11 points.
The Lakers defeated Cortland twice in the regular season, getting a last-second shot from Hayden Ward to prevail at home 69-67 on Jan. 21 before routing the Red Dragons at Corey Gymnasium 84-65 back on Feb. 4.
Cortland has won 13 of its last 15 games, with both losses to Oswego.
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