To start the 2021-2022 season, the Plattsburgh men’s basketball team played its first two games on the road in Danbury, Connecticut. It took on The Western Connecticut State Colonials Nov. 6 and the Sarah Lawrence College Gryphons on Nov. 7.
Due to COVID-19, the previous basketball season was canceled. The last time Cardinal basketball was played was 2019-2020, when they went a disappointing 8-17, ending the season on a five-game losing streak.
This year’s lineup includes an influx of younger talent, with six first-year players and four sophomores. These new players had crucial contributions to both games over the weekend.
Against Western Connecticut, the Cardinals came out scoring and led 30-20 under six minutes in the first half. This run saw junior guard Axel Rodriguez drain three, three-point shots. The Colonials would battle back in the final minutes to make the score at half 35-34 in favor of Plattsburgh.
Western Connecticut took over the second half, leading by 17 with 3:08 left to play. Plattsburgh would attempt to get back into it and finished with a 80-69 loss.
Junior forward Erik Salo led the team with 13 rebounds with nine coming in the first half.
Plattsburgh’s biggest contributor was first-year guard Kevin Tabb, in his first collegiate game, played 36 minutes, scored the team leading nineteen points and went 8-9 from the free throw line.
Against Sarah Lawerence, the Cardinals chased the opposition this entire game and saw many deficits. This includes being down 14 points with more than 11 minutes remaining and 13 with 2:45 left. Clutch free throw shooting and points in the paint brought the score to 46-40 at the midpoint mark.
In this game, Plattsburgh shot 78.6% in free throws, this percentage was important in the result of the match.
Sarah Lawerence kept the momentum to start the second half and led by nine with 12:40 remaining. Needing a big play, senior guard Sheriff Conteh made a clutch three to get The Cardinals back into it. After a gritty run, Salo made a jumper in the paint to tie it, 61-61.
The teams went back and forth until Plattsburgh went on a 9-0 stretch with little time on the clock. Salo made two crucial free throws in this run to take the lead with just over a minute left. They held on to pick up their first win, with the final score being 77-72.
Salo finished the game with 15 points. Tabb again led the team in points, with 19 and tallied an assist. Additionally, Rodriguez went 10-10 from the line to help the team pick up the come-from behind win for the first of the season.
The Cardinals split their games this weekend and leave with a 1-1 record. They get a break before playing their next game Nov. 16 on the road at Saint Lawrence University.