February 27, 2016

Red Dragons reach title game

cstatePlattsburgh sports information
SUNY Cortland sophomore center Carrel Joseph pulls away a rebound with teammates Shayne Martinez, left, and Michael Kelly, 24, close by during Friday’s 80-78 conference semifinal win over Brockport.

PLATTSBURGH — Going into the conference playoff semifinals, senior point guard Shayne Martinez had made only a pair of 3-point shots this entire season for the SUNY Cortland men’s basketball squad.
So would have have guessed it would be Martinez’s long-range shooting success that would ignite this second half Red Dragons revival, Cortland erasing a seven-point halftime deficit to beat Brockport 80-78 on Friday night.
Martinez connected four times from beyond the 3-point arc after intermission to ignite a 48-point second half Cortland offensive outburst in this SUNY Athletic Conference semifinal at Memorial Hall on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus en route to a career-high 16-point performance.
While Martinez was making 6-of-7 shots, the second-seeded Red Dragons came up with a couple of crucial defensive stops down the stretch and had senior Blair Estarfaa snap a 78-78 deadlock with a pair of successful free throws with 12 seconds to go. That enabled Cortland to move on into today’s 4 p.m. championship game.
Cortland (19-7) will face Oswego (20-7) for the title and an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III tournament at 4 p.m. this afternoon back at Memorial Hall.
Fourth-seed Oswego, the defending league champion, defeated host and top-seed Plattsburgh 81-74 in the evening’s second semifinal. Cortland will be making its first appearance in the SUNYAC championships since 2013, when the Red Dragons captured the title.
During the regular season, Cortland beat Oswego twice, trimming the Lakers 66-62 in Oswego and 72-61 in the regular season finale just a week ago at Corey Gymnasium.
To knock off third seed Brockport (17-10), Cortland shot 68.4 percent from the floor in the second half including making 7-of-11 treys. That sharp-shooting was needed because Brockport finished making 60 percent of its shots — 30-for-50 — for the game including 8-for-13 accuracy from 3-point range.
Martinez — who came into the semifinal averaging just three points per game — was one of a handful of Red Dragons finishing in double figures, Estarfaa’s game-winning free throws capping his 19-point outing. Senior forward JP Reagan added 14 points and five rebounds off the bench, starting center Carrel Joseph also had 14 points and grabbed four boards and senior point guard TJ Hefele finished with 10 points.
Estarfaa was 9-for-9 and Reagan 6-for-6 from the free throw line, where Cortland had a decisive edge over the Golden Eagles. The winners out-scored Brockport 22-10 from the charity stripe, making 22 of their first 24 attempts before missing four straight in the final seconds.
THE GOLDEN EAGLES, who split home court regular season wins against Cortland, got 18-point performances from Clifton Lyerly and Hamed Shamseldin. Shamseldin made 7-of-9 shots off the bench, including a trio of 3-pointers and also grabbed five rebounds.
Forward Olusola Adeniran posted 15 points for the Golden Eagles on 6-for-7 shooting from the field, and guard Devonn Gavin chipped in 11 points off the bench.
While Cortland grabbed an early 15-10 advantage on a Reagan 3-pointer, Brockport used two runs to build a 39-32 lead at halftime. The Golden Eagles’ 14-3 spurt capped by a Gavin jump shot created a 24-18 advantage with 8:52 left in the half, and after Cortland regained the lead 27-26 with two Reagan free throws, a 13-5 Brockport spurt closed out the stanza.
The Red Dragons deficit stood at 40-32 in the opening minute of the second half when Coach Tom Spanbauer’s club began nipping away — pulling even at 45-45 on a Martinez 3-pointer.
Cortland then went ahead 58-50 on another Martinez three with 12:14 left to play.
Brockport whittled the lead to four on several occasions and knotted the game 75-75 at 1:58 when Clifton Lyerly hit a layup, was fouled and converted the free throw.
Cortland jumped up 78-75 on Joseph’s 3-pointer off a baseline in-bounds pass with 50 seconds left in regulation, but Brockport tied it again at 78-78 when Shamseldin converted a three-point play on an acrobatic drive to the basket.
CORTLAND TOOK possession with 39 seconds left and Estarfaa was bumped some 20-plus feet from the basket with 12 seconds remaining. The team’s top scorer calmly connected on both free throws to put the Red Dragons ahead to stay.
Shamseldin drove the lane looking for the potential tying bucket but lost the ball in traffic with just under two seconds left, Joseph standing tall in the lane for the Red Dragons. Earlier down the stretch, Cortland had also drawn a crucial offensive foul from a driving Golden Eagle.
After Cortland missed two free throws, Brockport attempted a long in-bounds pass from under the Cortland basketball but the ball hit the ceiling to turn the ball back over to the Red Dragons. Cortland again missed two free throws with two tenths of a second left, but Reagan grabbed an offensive rebound as time expired.
The win sends Cortland on to face Oswego, who knocked off Plattsburgh (21-5) for the second time this season. Brian Sortino scored 16 of his 29 points over the final 8:37 as the Lakers pulled away in the late going.
Kyle Covley with 12 points, Demetrius Mitchell with 10 and Dustin Pond with 10 were also in double figures for Oswego, while shot-blocking 6-foot-10 center Mykelle Krecko grabbed 10 rebounds.
Kyle Richardson had 25 points and eight rebounds for the host Cardinals.

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