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Brockport men’s basketball fall short in battle to Cortland 

Photo credit: Brockport Athletics Flickr

A battle between the top two teams in the SUNYAC lived up to the billing as the Red Dragons knocked off the Golden Eagles in a thriller 63-60. Brockport was coming off a big road conference win Friday night over nationally ranked Oswego State. The loss drops Brockport to 5-2 overall on the season and 2-1 in conference play. Brockport guard Tony Arnold thought fatigue played a factor in an uneven performance from his team. 

“Yesterday we played a hard-fought game for the full 40 and tonight I think it was spots,” Arnold said. “We kind of picked and choose when we wanted to play hard, and our fatigue showed [up] at different moments and that was the difference.” 

This was a back-and-forth affair from the opening tip, which saw both teams get off to a slow start as neither team made a shot from the field until the 17:32 mark of the opening half. Senior forward David Grady III scored seven of the first 11 points for Brockport as they settled into the game. For the Red Dragons, it was preseason All-American Austin Grunder who scored eight of his team’s first 18. A three from Arnold at the buzzer sent the teams to the half with Cortland leading 34-32. 

The second half saw the Golden Eagles jump in front early thanks to a 6-0 run, but the momentum was short lived. Cortland responded with a 16-3 run to take firm control of the game, holding Brockport without a made field goal for nearly six minutes. Brockport managed to hang around, however, never letting the deficit grow to more than nine. Arnold’s quick instincts defensively helped him rack five steals that led to multiple easy baskets to help keep his team’s struggling half-court offense afloat. Wallace, who finished with a team high 20 points, was the main focal point of the offense for most of the night due to the struggles of leading scorer Mehki Beckett, who shot just 1-9 from the floor. 

With 5:06 to play and the lead back up to eight, the Golden Eagles went on a run giving them new life in the game. Beckett finally cashed in drilling a three to start the run, one of only three three-pointers Brockport made in the game. Arnold then jumped into a passing lane and threw down his second thunderous dunk of the game before Wallace cut the lead to one on a nice drive to the basket with 2:55 to play. Arnold, who scored 10 of his 19 in the second half, was crucial in jump starting his team. 

“They went on a run and we were kind of down, I just wanted to spark a run in any way I could,” Arnold said. “I knew it was going to start on the defensive end, and I happened to come up with some steals tonight and finish the plays.” 

Neither team was able to score for the next couple minutes until Cam Williams’ mid-range jumper with 1:21 left pushed Cortland’s lead back out to three. A dunk by Grady III put the Golden Eagles back down just one with 19 seconds left. The Brockport defense, out of a timeout, forced a five second violation turnover and had possession with a chance to take their first lead since 16:50 left in the game. Wallace was able to drive into the lane and draw a foul, but he came up empty missing both free throws. A pair of Cortland free throws from Kareem Lubin pushed the lead back out to three with 5.6 seconds left. Brockport was unable to get a shot away as the buzzer sounded just before a desperate heave from Beckett. Arnold hopes his team can continue to grow from a game like this one. 

“Every game is a lesson, with every win you can learn and with every loss you can learn,” Arnold said. “We’re going to continue to build on the things we didn’t do well and build on the things we did well also.” 

The Green and Gold will return to SUNYAC action Tuesday when they travel to Fredonia to take on the winless Blue Devils. 

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