CORTLAND - The SUNY Potsdam men’s basketball team nearly came back from a 19-point deficit but fell to the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons 93-88 on Friday evening.
The Bears (17-5, 12-3 SUNYAC) came within two, but the Red Dragons (14-7, 8-6 SUNYAC) were able to hold them off with free-throw shooting. Sophomore forward Isaiah Brown (Westside Queens) led the Bears with 33 points and nine rebounds. Senior guard Jayquan Thomas (Hollis) finished with 19 points. For Cortland, junior forward Eric Edwards (Binghamton) led the way with 30 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore forward Austin Grunder (Trumansburg) posted 24 points and 19 rebounds.
Grunder opened up the scoring with a pull up jumper on the first possession of the night. Grunder began to get hot, going on to score the first 14 points for the Red Dragons. He ended his run with a three in transition at 14:52. After Cortland led 14-7, senior captain Aaron Armstrong (Lisbon) completed a three-point play after finishing through contact. At the halfway point, Brown’s two free throws helped the Bears tie the game at 20. At 8:48, Brown dribbled the length of the court for a dunk in transition, giving the Bears their first lead of the night at 24-22. The Red Dragons quickly reclaimed the lead as junior guard Ben Walters (Lockport) hit a 3-pointer from the left corner. Grunder got a layup inside at the 3:07 mark, and it would be the last basket of the half as both teams battled defensively. The Red Dragons led the Bears 40-31 at halftime.
The second half began with 3-pointers from both teams. First with Thomas’ shot off the pass from senior captain Danny Delsol-Lowry (Queens). It was followed by junior guard Jake Disanto’s (Victor) three where his shot fake got him open from the left corner. Disanto continued Cortland’s momentum, scoring again after a drive. The Red Dragons proceeded to go on a 16-8 run, ignited by a jumper from senior guard Brendan Fitzpatrick (Plainview). The run helped Cortland build the largest lead of the game at 19. Towards the midway point, the teams traded baskets. A layup from Delsol-Lowry helped the Bears within single-digits at 68-59, but the Red Dragons were able to keep them at arms length with free throws. With 4:34 left, the home team led 80-69. At this point Brown started a run with a pair of free throws and a pull up jumper. On the Bears next possession, Thomas got a pass inside to freshman forward Ahamadou Sillah (Bronx), who finished with the contact and completed a three-point play. Sillah continued the run with a steal on the next possession, which led to Thomas drawing a foul. Thomas drained both shots at the line, bringing the Bears to within six. With 2:03 left, after a turnover by Cortland, Thomas came on the other end and banked in a 3-pointer with a hand in his face. Grunder responded on the other end for the Red Dragons, catching his own miss and tipping it in. With :26 left, Brown made it a two-point game with a jump shot. The Bears were then forced to foul and Fitzpatrick and Grunder sealed the game with points from the line.
Freshman center Tyrese Baptiste (Brooklyn) had 11 points and six rebounds for the Bears. Delsol-Lowry and junior forward Dante Viskovich (Massena) finished with seven each.
Disanto added 16 points for Cortland. Fitzpatrick chipped in with 10 points, five rebounds, and eight helpers.
Cortland shot 47.1-percent from the field and 35.5-percent from behind the arc, while Potsdam shot 42.3-percent from the field and 30.8-percent from downtown.
The Bears continue their road trip this afternoon with a 4 p.m. matchup against the Oswego State Lakers.
ITHACA DROPS CLARKSON
A stretch of 17-for-28 shooting by Ithaca in the second half turned a close game into a double-digit defeat for the Clarkson men, as the Golden Knights fell 101-82 in Liberty League action in Ithaca.
The Golden Knights dropped to 7-15 overall and 5-10 in the Liberty League while Ithaca moved to 17-5 and 12-3 in conference games. Clarkson will look to regroup today with a key game against Skidmore College.
Clarkson trailed by just five early in the second half, but Ithaca went on an 18-5 run thanks to a 7-10 effort from the field coupled with a pair of free throws. The Bombers were not done, either, making four of their next six shots to expand the lead further.
The game marked the second time this season that Ithaca has surpassed the century threshold against Clarkson.
Senior Matt Higgins opened the scoring with a basket just 10 seconds into the game, but the opening two minutes belonged to the Bombers as Ithaca raced out to an 11-2 lead. However, Clarkson quickly recovered and tied the game at 18-18 thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers from Blake Gearhart. A minute later, the Knights took the lead for a second time on a pair of free throws from Higgins at 11:07. Ithaca responded with a 7-0 run in the next 90 seconds that was only briefly halted by two free throws from Clarkson’s Joe Lucas, as the Bombers went on a 15-2 run overall in a stretch of just three minutes, thanks in large part to the scoring of Skylar Sinon. The Knights would not allow Ithaca to hold on to a double-digit lead for long, though, as Higgins pulled Clarkson back to within five following a 3-pointer at the 5:51 mark. Back up by 10 a few moments later, Ithaca saw its lead evaporate to nothing when Higgins converted two free throws at the 1:37 mark, tying the game 44-44. Two layups surrounded a 3-pointer for the Bombers in the final minute, giving Ithaca a seven-point edge at the break.
Ithaca shot just under 50 percent from the floor in the first half (19-40) while the Knights were just 12-33 from the field, making up the difference with a 16-16 effort from the free throw line in the opening 20 minutes. Higgins had 15 points and seven rebounds in the half, but Sinon was even better for Ithaca, scoring 19 points to go along with three steals.
Clarkson scored the first two baskets of the second half to get back within three, and the Knights trailed by only five when Barryn Shark made a 3-pointer at the 15:18 mark. That was the last that Clarkson would challenge the Bombers, however, as Ithaca went on an 18-5 run in the next four minutes. The lead extended to 20 when Jake Mitchell hit a 3-pointer at the 10:47 mark and made it up to 27 on Sebastian Alderete’s 3-pointer at the 8:37 mark, putting Ithaca up 92-65. The offense cooled somewhat from that point on, but Clarkson didn’t have enough to threaten the Bombers down the stretch.
Higgins finished with a double-double, scoring 20 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Blake Gearhart scored a season-best 16 points after producing just two points in his last two games, shooting 6-11 from the field in 22 minutes of play. Reese Swedberg also chipped in 12 points for the Knights.
Ithaca was led by Skylar Sinon’s 23 points, and the sophomore also added six rebounds, five assists and five steals. Sebastian Alderete tossed in 17 points and three other players also finished in double figures for the Bombers.