The Ithaca College men’s basketball team fell in its home opener in a close contest to rival SUNY Cortland by a score of 85–75 Nov. 27.
The game was a very high-energy and close contest throughout. In the first half, both teams matched each other point for point. Senior guard Matt Flood hit two key 3-pointers to keep the Blue and Gold within striking distance. Throughout the game, Cortland keyed in on Bombers’ junior guard Riley Thompson. The Red Dragons pressured him off the ball and made it tough for him to run through screens.
With about twelve minutes to go in the half, Cortland went to a 1–3–1 full court zone. The Bombers seemed to find success when Cortland switched, as they gained their biggest lead of the first half during that time.
Although it was a low scoring half, 11 3-pointers were made between both teams, Cortland shot 6-of-18 from beyond the arc while the Bombers shot 5-of-12. At halftime, Cortland led 34–32. The leading scorers at half were Thompson and Flood, both with eight points each. Cortland was led by junior forward Kenny Charles with eight points.
To start the second half, Bombers’ senior guard Jake Mitchell stole the ball from Red Dragons senior guard Nicky Bonura, then finished it by passing it to Thompson in the paint for a lay-up. That play gave the Bombers the 37–36 lead.
Junior guard Sebastian Alderete scored seven straight Bomber points and ultimately gave them a 52–51 lead with 13:08 left. The trend continued and after a Cortland layup, Alderete answered with a euro step, which gave the Blue and Gold a 60–59 lead, which would be their last lead of the game.
Cortland went on a 9–1 scoring run to take a 68–61 lead. Alderete hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 6 with 3:41. Then, Bonura answered with a shot of his own. He also put the game away with time winding down on the shot clock, a contested step-back three from the right wing which gave Cortland a nine-point lead with one minute to go.
“Defensively, we struggled as a unit,” Alderete said. “We couldn’t keep them out of the paint and we couldn’t control the rebounding battle — that’s something we need to improve on. I think I played very well in comparison to my past performances. I’m looking to bring that type of productivity going forward.”
The Bombers were led by Alderete who finished with 26 points, including 19 in the second half. Bonura was the leading scorer for Cortland with 22 points.
Cortland improves to 2–1 and the South Hill squad drops to 1–2 on the season. Next the Bombers will host Vassar College at 7 p.m. Nov. 30 in Ben Light Gymnasium.