ELMIRA, N.Y. – Senior Jeremy Smith (Bronx/Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy) scored 22 of his game-high 24 points in the second half as Cortland nipped host Elmira, 63-60, in the season opener for both teams.
Smith made 8-of-12 shots, including 4-of-7 three-pointers, and hit 4-of-5 foul shots. Senior Jesse Winter (Rockville Centre/South Side) added 14 points, nine in the second half, and sophomore Lamard Herron (Westbury), a transfer from SUNY New Paltz, finished with nine points. Senior Harrison Hefele (Greenlawn/Friends Academy) scored seven points and led the Red Dragons with five rebounds and three steals.
Josh Keys led Elmira with 15 points off the bench. He hit 4-of-6 shots from three-point range. Chris Cassidy registered 13 points and eight rebounds and Kurt Dutcher made 3-of-5 three-pointers in a nine-point effort.
Cortland shot 54 percent from the field overall and 36 percent (8-of-22) from behind the arc. The Red Dragons hit 60 percent of their shots (12-of-20) in the second half. Elmira made 46 percent of its three-pointers (10-of-22), but finished at only 44 percent in overall field-goal percentage.
Cortland never led in the first half. The Red Dragons were tied twice in the period, the last at 19-19 with 9:08 left, and went into the locker room down 29-25. Cortland grabbed its first lead at the 15:08 mark of the second half when Smith's three-pointer put the Red Dragons up 33-31.
Elmira held its final lead at 49-48 on a Cassidy layup with 4:12 left. Smith responded with a jumper at the 3:59 mark and a traditional three-point play with 3:25 remaining to give Cortland a 53-49 lead. Smith's three-pointer with 2:23 left and a Winter free throw with 1:49 on the clock established the Red Dragons' largest lead of the night at 57-51. The hosts closed to within four on a Cassidy tip-in, but Hefele's layup off a Winter feed with 56 seconds left pushed the lead back to six. Cassidy again answered with a layup, but Winter connected on two free throws with 41 seconds left and Cortland led 61-55.
With 10 seconds left, Keys was fouled attempting a three-pointer from the left corner and made all three foul shots to draw Elmira within three. Smith was fouled with eight seconds left and hit two free throws, and Elmira scored on a driving layup with two seconds left to trail 63-60. Following a timeout by each team, Cortland was able to inbounds the ball and run out the clock.
Cortland will play at Utica College on Saturday, Nov. 17, at 2 p.m.