Cortland Men's Basketball beats Widener on last-second basket

Zach Lydon scored the winning basket with 0.3 seconds left in overtime and finished with nine points and seven rebounds (Photo: Darl Zehr Photography)

Zach Lydon scored the winning basket with 0.3 seconds left in overtime and finished with nine points and seven rebounds (Photo: Darl Zehr Photography)

BALTIMORE, M.D. — Zach Lydon (Elizaville/Stissing Mountain) scored on a put-back with three tenths of a second remaining in overtime as Cortland defeated Widener University, 88-86, in the opening round of the Johns Hopkins University Blue Jay Invitational.

Cortland (8-2), which won its fifth straight game, will face Johns Hopkins in the championship game 3 p.m. Tuesday. The hosts defeated Cazenovia, 104-56, in Monday's other first-round game. Widener (5-6) will play Cazenovia in the third-place game Tuesday at 1 p.m.

James Morales (Mount Kisco/Fox Lane) led the Red Dragons with 26 points, including five 3-pointers, and also added eight rebounds and three assists. Justin Cooper (Pine Plains/Stissing Mountain) finished with 20 points, 14 rebounds and four assists.

Carrel Joseph (Port-au-Prince, Haiti/Deer Park (NY)) added 16 points and nine rebounds, along with a crucial blocked shot late in overtime. Michael Kelly (Monroe/Burke Catholic) finished with 11 points and Lydon scored nine points and pulled down seven rebounds. Morales, Cooper and Lydon each finished with a career high in rebounds.

Sardayah Sambo led the Pride with 30 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. He made 13-of-17 shots from the field to set a tournament record for field goals made. Kendall Green scored 24 points and hauled in nine rebounds, while Sam Smith totaled 18 points. John Fender shared the team lead with five assists and Ryan McMahon finished with eight rebounds.

Cortland tied the game at 86-86 on two Cooper free throws with 37.4 seconds remaining. Sambo appeared to have an easy layup attempt with about 19 seconds left to put Widener back in front, but Joseph swooped in and blocked the shot.

Cortland played for a final shot and Morales took a deep 3-pointer with about four seconds remaining. The shot was easily off target, but the rebound came right to Lydon underneath and he layed the ball in for the winning points. A final desperation shot by the Pride from beyond halfcourt was well short at the buzzer.

The Red Dragons led by 16 points, 57-41, on a Kelly 3-pointer with 13:10 left in regulation, but Widener fought back and eventually took only its second lead of the day at 68-67 on a Green layup with 2:39 remaining.

That was the first of five lead changes in the final three minutes of regulation. Joseph was fouled after a defensive rebound with 1:04 left and hit two free throws to give Cortland a 69-68 lead. Widener answered with Smith's twisting layup with 43.9 seconds left, but Morales hit a pull-up jumper with 29 seconds left. Widener, however, took a 73-71 lead on Nick Jackson's 3-pointer with 17 seconds left.

Cortland had a potential go-ahead 3-pointer by Morales spin out with 11 seconds left. Joseph was fouled on a quick put-back attempt and sank both free throws to tie the game at 73 with 8.9 seconds left. Sambo's contested jumper from the right side was off the mark to send the game to overtime.

After shooting 48 percent from the field in the first half, Cortland made only 25 percent of its shots in the second half. The Red Dragons did, however, make 5-of-8 shots in the overtime session and finished the game at 38 percent. Widener was more consistent at 49 percent from the floor, both in the second half and overall.

The difference for the Red Dragons was at the foul line. Cortland made 26-of-30 free throws (87 percent), including 9-of-11 by Cooper, 7-of-8 by Joseph, and 5-of-5 by Morales. Widener hit only 59 percent from the line (13-of-22). Cortland also outrebounded Widener by a 53-32 margin, although the Red Dragons did turn the ball over 16 times to Widener's eight.