Cortland Outscores Buffalo St., 90-87, Behind Career Highs from Cooper and Charles

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BUFFALO, N.Y. – Justin Cooper (Pine Plains/Stissing Mountain) and Kenny Charles (Huntington) posted career-high scoring totals with 31 and 22 points, respectively, and Zach Lydon (Elizaville/Stissing Mountain) hit two free throws with 19 seconds  left to give Cortland the lead for good as the Red Dragons outscored host Buffalo State, 90-87, in a SUNYAC men's basketball matchup.

Cooper made 9-of-11 shots from the floor and all 12 of his free throws and finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds and three assists for the Red Dragons (5-2, 3-1 SUNYAC). Charles was 9-of-14 from the field, 2-of-3 from 3-point range, and ended with 22 points and six rebounds.

Nicky Bonura (Mount Kisco/Fox Lane) added 13 points, five assists and a career-high seven rebounds, and Lydon rang up eight points and three boards.

Buffalo State (3-4, 1-2 SUNYAC) was paced by Kay Grant with 22 pints on 10-of-12 shooting. Ryniek Holloway made 4-of-5 field goals, with two treys, and 6-of-7 free throws to finish with 16 points. Sheldon Adams had 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds and Dom Grayer pitched in with 12 points.

Cortland shot 56 percent from the field in the second half and ended the game at 47 percent. The Red Dragons were 27-of-32 (84 percent) from the foul line and outscored the Bengals by 12 from the stripe. Buffalo State shot 52 percent from the field but only 60 percent (15-of-25) from the line.

Cortland trailed by as many as eight points in the first half and went into halftime down 43-40. The Red Dragons built an eight-point lead of their own at 61-53 on two Cooper foul shots with 13:30 left, but Buffalo State chipped away and eventually tied the score at 63 on a Holloway free throw with 9:47 left.

From that point there were six lead changes and neither team led by more than three points. A driving dunk by Charles put Cortland up 81-79 with 2:43 left but Yosh Bernandez answered with a layup to tie the score moments later. Kareem Holmes put the Bengals up 83-81 on a layup with 1:33 left, but a quick response by Cooper 13 seconds later re-tied the score.

Lydon made the second of two free throws with 49 seconds left and Buffalo State took the lead on an Adams layup at the 39-second mark. Cortland committed a turnover with 33 seconds left but the Bengals lost the ball with 28 seconds remaining.

Lydon was fouled with 19 seconds left and swished both free throws to put Cortland up by one. Buffalo State called timeout with 8.8 seconds left and a straightaway trey by the Bengals came up short. Cooper was fouled with 3.5 seconds remaining and made two foul shots and Cortland led by three.

The Red Dragons purposely fouled the Bengals in the backcourt with 1.5 left. Grayer made the first free throw and then appeared to try to miss the second, but it banked in and Cortland led by one. Cooper was fouled with 1.2 seconds on the clock and hit two more foul shots to push the lead to three, and a long desperation 3-point heave by the hosts was off the mark at the buzzer.

Cortland will play a non-league game at SUNY Old Westbury next Saturday at 2 p.m.