Last night, Cortland’s 16-9 Men’s Basketball team hosted, and lost to, the 15-10 Oneonta Red Dragons in the Quarterfinals of the SUNYAC tournament at Corey Gymnasium. Coming into the game Oneonta was red hot, winning seven of eight games, while Cortland had lost three straight since losing Zach Lydon for the season due to a broken finger.
The game started off with both teams scoring with ease, Cortland’s first nine points were scored from three-pointers, provided by junior Ryan Schmadel and senior Nicky Bonura. The score was knotted up at 9-9 with about 12 minutes left in the half and then Oneonta went on a huge 17-3 run, putting them up 26-12 with seven minutes remaining before halftime.
Oneonta was led by Ian Shultz and center, Joseph Bull in the first half as they put up a combined 19 points and grabbed 12 total rebounds. After teams were trading buckets early, Oneonta started to feed Bull down low as they realized they had a distinct advantage in the paint as Cortland was without Zach Lydon, who had been their big man down low all season long.
Offensively, Cortland simply couldn’t get anyone open off the dribble and Oneonta was playing masterful defense, switching with ease off of picks and contesting every shot Cortland put up. It was apparent that Oneonta was doing everything they could to keep Cortland’s star, Justin Cooper, quiet and it was working.
Cooper averaged nearly 17 points per game all season long but only put up nine points in this one, most coming when the game was all but over.
At halftime, Oneonta was ahead 43-26 and barring some major adjustments to the gameplan, by Cortland’s Head Coach Tom Spanbauer, it appeared as if this game was already over.
Spanbauer realized that his team needed some more size on the court if the team was going to shutdown Oneonta’s Justin Bull. To do this he started the second half with 6′ 3” freshman Forward Rahim Akinwunmi and 6′ 5” Senior William Lee Moore on the court and that duo brought plenty of energy to start the second half.
Akinwunmi and Moore scored the first nine points of the second half from shots beyond the arc and Brendan Fitzpatrick followed them with a three-point play that brought Cortland within five points shifting the momentum entirely in their favor.
This 12 point led to the home crowd erupting, causing the referees to stop the game momentarily to tell the students to stay away from the court. It appeared as if a comeback was in the works as the score was soon 45-41 in favor of Oneonta with 16 minutes left to play.
However, a heavily contested three was knocked down by Dylan Trombley of Oneonta to put his team back up by seven and the crowd quieted down from there. That shot was the beginning of a 10-2 run by Oneonta as the momentum shifted back in their favor and stayed there for the rest of the game.
The energy brought early in the second half by Cortland never returned and Joseph Bull started to dominate in the paint again. He scored 17 points and pulled in six rebounds in the half and finished the game with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists.
Cortland had no answer for Bull for the majority of the night with Ryan Schmadel being the only one to have any success against him defensively, but by the time he was put on Bull, it was too little too late.
The final score was 84-71 with Oneonta walking away victorious. The Joseph Bull led Oneonta Red Dragons will move on in the SUNYAC tournament and play Saturday, February 23rd with their opponent still to be determined.