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March 1, 2016

Dragons open up NCAAs vs. WPI

The reward for the SUNY Cortland men’s basketball squad capturing a conference championship?
Well, the Red Dragons will now get to take a trip to Massachusetts as one of the 62 teams competing in the NCAA Division III tournament. They will be part of a four-team gathering hosted by Amherst College this weekend.
Cortland (20-7) will face Worcester Polytechnic Institute (20-6) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in the second of two first round games, as host Amherst (22-5) takes on Maine’s Husson College (21-6) in the 5:30 p.m. opener.
The winners will meet Saturday in a second round match-up at Amherst. Cortland has never faced WPI, Amherst or Husson.
After finishing second in the SUNY Athletic Conference regular season standings, the Red Dragons knocked off Brockport 80-78 in the playoff semifinals this past Friday. Cortland then pulled out a 77-74 win over Oswego in Saturday’s championship game on a 3-point shot swished by James Morales with four-tenths of a second remaining in regulation to earn the automatic bid into the NCAA field.
Regular season SUNYAC champion Plattsburgh, Cortland and Oswego all earned a spot in the tournament.
Plattsburgh will host a four-team regional with first-round opponent Fitchburg State out of Massachusetts, Connecticut’s Trinity College and Johnson & Wales out of Rhode Island. Oswego meets Pennsylvania’s Delaware Valley in a first round game Friday in a regional being hosted by Marietta College in Ohio.
In his 21st season coaching his alma mater, Cortland head coach Tom Spanbauer reached the 20-win plateau for the eighth time.
The Red Dragons will be making their sixth NCAA appearance and first since 2013. Cortland teams advanced to the “Sweet 16” in both 1999 and 2000, lost in the second round in 2006 and 2013, and fell in the first round in 1997.
WPI finished in second place in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference regular-season standings. The Engineers lost in the conference tournament semifinals to MIT, 96-80, before earning an NCAA at-large berth.
The Engineers will be making their fourth straight NCAA appearance and 11th overall, with 10 of those showing coming in the last 12 years.
FOR SUNYAC WOMEN, playoff champion New Paltz (21-6) and playoff finalist Geneseo (20-7) are in NCAA Division III brackets. That tournament gets underway with first round games on Friday, and both teams are headed to New Jersey.
New Paltz will face regional host Rowan in a first round contest, as Amherst and Eastern Connecticut State are the other first round foes in Glassboro. Geneseo plays Fairleigh Dickinson-Florham in the opening round, while Old Westbury meets host Stevens in Hoboken.
Second round games will be played on Saturday.
Cortland finished fourth in the SUNYAC standings, and had a 17-9 season ended with a 68-58 loss to fifth seed Oneonta in the conference playoff quarterfinals last week.

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