PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – Plattsburgh's Jonathan Patron scored 23 points and dished out four assists as the host Cardinals held off Cortland, 71-67, in a SUNYAC men's basketball contest.
With the win, Plattsburgh solidified its hold on second place in the conference with a 12-3 league mark (18-4 overall). Cortland (15-6, 9-5 SUNYAC), which lost its first Division III road game of the season, is tied for third in the league along with Brockport with four games remaining. Those teams are a game and a half ahead of fifth-place Potsdam (8-7). Cortland plays at Potsdam Saturday at 4 p.m. The top six teams qualify for the SUNYAC tournament, with the third and fourth-place teams hosting first-round games.
Nicky Bonura (Mount Kisco/Fox Lane) led Cortland with 21 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals. He made 5-of-10 shots from the 3-point arc. Zach Lydon (Elizaville/Stissing Mountain) totaled 14 points and five rebounds and Ryan Schmadel (Oriskany) tallied 10 points and grabbed four boards. Justin Cooper (Pine Plains/Stissing Mountain) and Kenny Charles (Huntington) each finished with six rebounds.
Patron was 7-of-17 from the floor and 7-of-8 from the foul line for Plattsburgh. He also finished with six rebounds. Nick DeAngelis made four 3-pointers and ended with 17 points. Brandon Johnson chipped in with nine points, seven rebounds and three assists and Chris Middleton had eight points and team highs of 10 rebounds and two blocks.
Cortland never led in the game, but was in contention until the closing minutes. The Red Dragons fell behind 39-29 at halftime but cut their deficit to three at 49-46 on a Brendan Fitzpatrick (Plainview/Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK) 3-pointer with 12:13 left. The Plattsburgh lead hovered between four and eight points over the next eight minutes, and the Cardinals grabbed their largest advantage of the half at 64-54 on two Middleton foul shots with 3:28 left.
The Red Dragons made a final push on 3-pointers by Bonura and Lydon to draw within 64-60 with 2:15 left. Cortland got a steal on Plattsburgh's next possession but missed a layup in transition, and DeAngelis hit a 3-pointer with 1:46 left to give the Cardinals a seven-point lead. Cortland got no closer than the final four-point margin, which was created when Bonura was fouled attempting a 3-pointer in the closing seconds and made all three free throws.
Cortland made 14 of its 38 shots from the 3-point line (37 percent) but finished at only 37 percent from the field overall. The Red Dragons entered the game as the Division III national leader in free throw percentage at 81.8 percent and went 9-for-10 from the line. Plattsburgh shot 39 percent overall and 32 percent from the arc (8-for-25), and the Cardinals went 17-for-22 from the foul line. Plattsburgh turned 11 offensive rebounds into a 20-8 advantage in second-chance points.