It was Senior Night for Cortland Men’s Basketball last night as the 16-6 Red Dragons took on the 13-9 New Paltz Hawks at home, in Corey Gymnasium. The Red Dragons were led by senior Justin Cooper and his 24 points, but they took the loss as the Hawks scored the first bucket of the game and never looked back, winning 67-61.
While Justin Cooper was dominant on the court and ended with 24 points and 13 rebounds on 10-14 shooting, the rest of the team struggled to do anything against the Tristan Wissemann and Isaiah Bien-Aise led Hawks. That duo scored 19 and 18 points, respectively, while playing tough defense throughout the night.
The Red Dragons were very much in the game early on, as about 12 minutes through the first half they were only down by one point, as the score was 17-16, in favor of the Hawks. However, a 15-1 run by New Paltz changed the whole complexion of the match-up.
Cortland simply couldn’t find their shot in the first half. As a team, they shot just 32% from the field and an abysmal 10% from beyond the arc on 1-10 shooting. The lack of offense led to a 12 point deficit at half-time. If the team was going to make a comeback they were going to have to figure something out in the locker room to create more space for the shooters that were not getting many open looks at all.
The second half started with a score of 39-27 and the Red Dragons were slowly chipping away at the New Paltz lead, while still struggling to get on a roll offensively. The team got within six points around the midway point of the second half as they trailed 46-40 and the momentum was seemingly tipping in Cortlands favor.
The Men’s Lacrosse team entered the gym right around now and they were starting to ignite some fire in the crowd every time Cortland scored a basket. With about six minutes left in the game Cortland freshman, AJ Lawton hit a big three to make the score 52-47, with the Hawks still ahead, but it seemed as if the momentum shifted entirely in favor of the Red Dragons.
After that, a three-point challenge ensued, as Isaiah Bien-Aise of the Hawks answered with a three of his own, Ryan Schmadel then hit his first triple of the night, keeping the team within five points. The momentum was quickly shut down after that, though, as the New Paltz scoring leader, Tristan Wisseman, hit a triple himself to put his team back up by eight points.
New Paltz seemingly had the game in hand after that, as Cortland did not get within five points again until some late-game fouling narrowed the score to 65-61.
In the end, the Hawks were victorious, upsetting the Red Dragons on their senior night with a final score of 67-61.
Cortland did outplay New Paltz in the second half, outscoring them by six points, but their downfall was the inability of anyone besides Cooper to get shots to fall with regularity.
Surprisingly, seniors Zach Lydon and William Lee Moore did not touch the floor at all in their senior game. Lydon appeared injured as he did not participate in warm-ups, but Moore has not had any in-game action since the team’s loss against Oneonta in late January.
The Red Dragons look to get back on track this Friday as they travel to Geneseo to take on the 7-16 Knights.