By MIKE ROSE
Entering with momentum and in control of their postseason fate, the Brockport men’s basketball team came up short Friday night, falling 64-57 to the Cortland Red Dragons. The Golden Eagles posted their third lowest-scoring game of the season and lowest since a Dec. 2 loss to New Paltz. The loss snapped Brockport’s three-game winning streak and continued what has seemingly become the theme of this year’s team, a lack of consistency from game to game. Brockport head coach Joe Clarke echoed that in regard to where things went wrong Friday night.
“Consistency, just that,” Clarke said. “I think from the coaching staff’s standpoint it was from the defensive end first, which I think really gets our offense going. I don’t think we were locked into the scout and just weren’t doing things and talking the way we should’ve. So, I think it was initially the energy and the focus on the defensive end first which gave us a little funk on the other end.”
The Golden Eagles came out of the gates slowly, connecting on just 2-of-11 from the floor to begin the game. The first half swung back and forth but a pair of free throws from Isaiah Austin gave Cortland a two-point lead at the break. Brockport’s leading scorer, Tony Arnold, was a spectator for much of the opening 20 minutes as he picked up two early fouls and played just three minutes.
In the second half, Cortland carried over its momentum. Arnold scored a quick five points early before the Red Dragons responded with a 7-0 run to open a six-point advantage. Arnold kept his team within striking distance, drilling a pair of jumpers and setting up Alex Tavarez inside for a layup that gave Brockport a 41-40 edge with 11:20 to play. Then it was Cortland’s Kareem Lubin’s turn to take over.
Lubin would explode for a personal 9-2 run that gave the Red Dragons the lead for good with 7:01 to play. Lubin finished the night with a game-high 22 points for Cortland.
From that 7:01 mark until the final 30 seconds of the game, Brockport would score just four points, including five missed layups. The Golden Eagles tacked on a few baskets late, but the game had all but been decided.
“We made a couple of key mistakes, a couple of misplays,” Arnold said. “I had a couple of plays where I’d say I didn’t do the best, so I’ll take the credit for that as far as defensively and offensively. We had a game plan and I felt like we stuck with it for the most part but it wasn’t for the full 40 minutes. With us approaching the playoffs, every possession matters. Those key possessions we didn’t capitalize on tonight and we lost the game.”
Arnold finished the night with 10 points while Tavarez was the only other Golden Eagle in double figures with 12. Kendall Arcuri joined Lubin in double digits, recording 14 points and nine rebounds for Cortland while Aaron Coston posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Despite the loss, Brockport clinched its berth in the SUNYAC playoffs Friday. Where they will ultimately be seeded remains to be seen as they can finish anywhere from second to fifth place depending on how results around the league shake out over the next two weeks.
The Golden Eagles (15-7, 11-5) will have a major test next up in the form of the Oswego State Lakers (21-1, 15-0), who clinched the number one seed Friday night with a win over Geneseo. The Lakers have not lost a SUNYAC game since Dec. 2, 2022, when they fell to Brockport. Arnold believes his team will be ready.
“We’ve been through a lot as a team so we’re ready for anything,” Arnold said. “We’ve been down and had to go to practice the next day and pick ourselves up and we’ve been down in games and had to play the next day to pick ourselves up. This is no different than that. If we had won, it would’ve been the same mentality. Now it’s about splitting the weekend.”
The Lakers and Golden Eagles will do battle inside The Vlog tomorrow, Feb. 10, in Brockport’s penultimate game of the regular season with tip-off scheduled for 4 p.m.