MIAMI, FLA. – Three players scored at least 20 points and Cortland held off a second-half rally as the Red Dragons defeated Southern Vermont, 94-85, during the opening day of the HoopMIA D3 Holiday Shootout at Barry University.
Cortland (9-1) won its seventh straight game. The Red Dragons return to action in the tournament Wednesday at 2 p.m. versus Washington and Lee University.
Justin Cooper (Pine Plains/Stissing Mountain) made all seven of his shots from the field and 8-of-9 free throws and finished with 23 points and a career-high tying 14 rebounds. Zach Lydon (Elizaville/Stissing Mountain) scored a career-high 23 points and added eight rebounds, four blocks and two assists. He was 7-of-12 from the field. James Morales (Mount Kisco/Fox Lane) made 7-of-11 shots overall, 5-of-7 from 3-point range, and ended with 20 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
Also for the Red Dragons, Nicky Bonura (Mount Kisco/Fox Lane) scored 15 points and dished out three assists, and Carrell Joseph (Deer Park) tallied eight points on 4-of-5 shooting.
Mike Pierre led Southern Vermont (7-2) with 20 points and six rebounds. KJ Kinsey scored 18 points, Kyle Depollar hit four 3-pointers in a 16-point effort, and Daemond Carter chipped in with 11 points and five assists.
Cortland shot 60 percent from the field overall and 44 percent (12-of-27) from the 3-point arc. Southern Vermont finished at 46 percent from the field and 39 percent (12-of-31) from long distance. Cortland held a 16-7 edged over the Mountaineers from the foul line.
Cortland raced out to a 13-0 lead to start the game and led 30-16 with 6:27 left in the period. Southern Vermont pulled back to within 34-27 with 3:58 left. The Red Dragons held a nine-point edge before five straight points from Bonura gave Cortland a 51-37 halftime lead.
The Red Dragons' largest lead came at 53-37 early in the second half, but the Mountaineers gradually worked their way back into the contest. Carter's 3-pointer with 12:03 left cut the Cortland lead to five, and they eventually got as close as two at 68-66 on a Kinsey steal and dunk with 7:40 left.
Morales spurred a Cortland 9-0 run that pushed the lead back to 11 with 6:06 left. He started the streak with a free throw and a 3-pointer. Bonura hit a layup, and another Morales trey completed the run.
The closest Southern Vermont got from that point was five points at 90-85 on Kinsey's layup with 40 seconds left. Cortland closed its scoring with four free throws, three by Lydon, to seal the win.