By Collin Bolebruch
The Cardinals are about to break a school record, but it’s not history that they want to make.
On Tuesday, Plattsburgh (2-19) lost to the conference opponent Potsdam Bears (10-9) by a score of 67-80 in Potsdam.
After suffering their 19th loss this year, Plattsburgh ties the 1999-2000 and 2002-03 seasons for most losses in a men’s basketball season. With just four games left on the schedule, the 2021-22 Cardinals are set to be in sole possession of the title.
Despite the double-digit final score, the game remained close most of the way throughout. There weren’t many lead changes, but the Cardinals were always a basket or two behind.
Kevin Tabb saw a career night, netting 26 points, six rebounds, two steals, and four three-pointers. Other key contributors included a double-double by Erik Salo with 14 points and 13 rebounds and first-year guard Franklin Infante with 11 points.
Tabb wasn’t surprised by his stat sheet. He said,
“My confidence was really high going into that game.”
Infante started the season on the bench but eventually worked his way into the starting lineup over older, more experienced players. Infante shared,
“I try to handle the responsibility the best I can. Learning from my teammates and coaches has helped me adapt the best I can with a lot of room to improve. I put the work in to be as ready as I can when my number is called. I don’t feel pressure because I know I have my teammates and coaches behind me.”
Coming off of the bench for Potsdam, center/forward Tyrese Baptiste put up 18 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists. Guard Jeff Williamson scored 15 on just eight shots.
Potsdam had seven more offensive rebounds than Plattsburgh. It took advantage of that, putting in 17 second-chance points to the Cardinals’ five.
“It hurt the team in a big way. We need to do a better job boxing out and attacking the glass on defense,” Salo said.
Although only seven players saw over 10 minutes, Plattsburgh recorded an impressive 47.4% (27-57) from the field. It also recorded 16 turnovers to Potsdam’s 13, while scoring only nine points off of those opportunities, and Potsdam scored 23.
“We can take advantage of our opportunities off turnovers by staying composed once we get possession of the ball and getting the best shot available on offense.” Infante said.
The high workload didn’t phase the starters.
“I think it helped, because like the way we practice we be running hard and stuff like that. So I feel like the starters don’t get tired a lot.” Tabb said.
The first half saw a game of back and forth, with the Cardinals never being down by more than seven. Plattsburgh was plenty efficient, hitting 50% of all shots and 42.9% of their threes.
“I feel like that was everyone coming together that game. Like we was going into that game, like trust, believe in your game. Don’t be scared to take your shots or none of that.” Said Tabb.
Only their starters played significant minutes, with just eight players seeing the floor in the first. Between those three bench players, only two points were scored on four shots. They entered the next half down 32-38.
Things did not get better for Plattsburgh. Baskets from Salo and Infante brought it within two, but within five minutes the Cardinals were down double digits for the first time all game.
The game was never out of reach, but that was the tipping point for the Cardinals. The Bears put their foot on the gas pedal, leading by 18 with two minutes left.
“We need to retain our composure late in these games.” Salo Said. “I think being consistent and playing smart, team basketball for a full 40 minutes is what the team needs to work on most.
Plattsburgh returns home Friday, taking on SUNY Geneseo (9-11). Two weeks ago, the Cardinals lost in Geneseo by six, and now they look to even out the season series.