With a near full-capacity attendance of 867 people, the SUNY Plattsburgh men’s basketball team came out victorious against St. Lawrence University 89-84 in the Cardinals’ home-opener Tuesday.
“I was blown away,” first-year head coach Mike Blaine said. “Seeing so many people out and supporting our guys was really impressive. Cardinal Country is a big part of this game tonight because we were a little unsettled early, and they kept us in once our guys got feeling good. I hope that we showed folks around here how hard these guys play, how unselfish they play and how much of ourselves we’re willing to put for each other.”
Plattsburgh State’s win was led by its upperclassmen.
Senior guard Nick DeAngelis scored 20 points on 7 of 15 shooting, including 4 of 9 from behind the arc.
Senior guard/forward Jeremy Eisenman scored a career high 18 points on 6 of 14 shooting to go along with five rebounds and two steals.
“They have experience. They’ve been through it, so they know what to expect coming into these games,” freshman center Cameron Ness said. “The poise that they have, especially at the end of the game when they can just focus and relax and make big free throws and big shots at the end of the game, I think the ability to teach the younger guys, and make sure that we’re all on the same page is huge for us.”
St. Lawrence started the game with an 11-3 run, but the Cards cut the lead down to two with a 3-pointer, a layup, and two free throws by DeAngelis.
SUNY Plattsburgh took its first lead of the game after another three-pointer by DeAngelis to put the Cards in front 20-17.
Both teams exchanged blows throughout the first half and the Cards were down 41-40 entering the locker rooms, with Ness making a layup with 6.6 seconds remaining to finish the half.
The Cards opened up the second half with a 16-5 run, starting with a steal and layup by Cox and ended with back-to-back layups by Ness, putting SUNY Plattsburgh up in front 56-47.
The Cards went on another 12-6 run, which was capped by a three-pointer from Eisenman.
With 1:49 left to go in regulation, Cox scored two free throws to put the Cards up 85-74. However, with the help of two turnovers and a missed three-pointer by the Cards, St. Lawrence started gaining momentum and went on a 10-0 run to make the score 85-84 with 25 seconds remaining.
Cox dribbled the ball up court and started to drain the clock before taking a personal foul and heading to the foul line with 16 seconds remaining.
Cox drained both free throws, making the score 87-84. St. Lawrence missed an important three-pointer with 7.6 seconds remaining. Freshman guard Axel Rodriguez was fouled and sent to the free throw line.
He made both free throws to make the score 89-84 and making it a two-possession game. Eisenman forced a turnover on the final possession of the game, sealing the victory for Plattsburgh State.
“When it starts going sideways for us, this group does a really good job coming together and getting everybody on the same page and getting everybody back on track,” Blaine said. “As long as we continue to pull together when things are difficult, we’re gonna continue to find a way to grow and improve, and hopefully, continue that amount of success.”
The Cards shot 42.7% from the floor, 41.4% from beyond the arc and 61.9% from the foul line in the win. They also beat St. Lawrence in the rebounding game 43-40.
“We have a lot of talented guys, but if we want to win, we’re not gonna be able to go one-on-one and beat these teams,” Ness said. “We have to play as a unit, and if someone’s playing well, then we give them the ball and they score. It’s not about going for 30 points a night and carrying us to a win, it’s about finding the shots that are right for us and making the plays that work best for everybody, not just one person.”
Plattsburgh State rises to 2-1 overall with the victory over St. Lawrence. The Cards are on the road Monday for their last nonconference game before the SUNYACs when they play Skidmore College at 7 p.m.