The Cayuga Community College Spartans topped the Clinton Community College Cougars 77-73 in overtime on Dec. 1 after Messiah Brown's three-pointer at the buzzer sent the game into the extra period.
Cayuga employed a stiff defense throughout the game, harrying the Cougars into shooting less than 25 percent from the three-point-line, and relied on Stanley Beato and Brown to pace the Spartans' offense.
"This was a huge step forward for our defense. We've struggled some at that end of the court to start the season, but we really stepped up against Clinton. They're a team that likes to get out and shoot threes, and we just didn't give them any room to get into a rhythm," said Cayuga Coach Tony Borges.
The Spartans started slow in the contest against Clinton, but held a 31-30 lead at halftime.
Knowing that Clinton preferred a fast-paced game and previously played well against press defense, the Spartans chose to use a half-court man-to-man defense that focused on contesting three-point shots.
That plan worked, as the Cougars made only 5 of 22 three-point field goals against Cayuga's stingy defense.
Even as their defense excelled, however, the Spartans also struggled from the field, which kept the contest close. With only 12 seconds remaining in the second half, Cayuga found themselves down 62-59 with Clinton at the free throw line. The Cougars missed both shots, setting up Brown's late-game heroics.
"After that second missed free throw, we did a good job of getting the rebound and getting the ball to Messiah. I knew the shot was good once he let it go. It was a great clutch shot," said Borges. "We had to settle down after that, but I knew we were in a good position. We were in attack mode at that point, and getting to the free-throw line consistently."
The Spartans outscored the Cougars 15-11 in overtime, securing the win and pushing their record to 4-3 on the season.
Borges said he was pleased with how the team played, noting that the players did a great job implementing what they worked on all week.
"Our defense won this game for us. They usually make 10-11 three-pointers, and we cut that figure in half. We made them try to take it to the basket," said Borges. "It was just a great job executing the game plan."
Beato led the Spartans in scoring with 26 points, and added 8 rebounds, three assists and one steal.
Brown added 21 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals, and Javon Coleman grabbed 14 rebounds to go with 10 points for the Spartans.
Cayuga travels to Mohawk Valley Community College for its next game on Dec. 8.