The beginning of the new calendar year was unforgiving for the Plattsburgh State men’s basketball team, losing its first eight games of 2017.
However, since their most recent road trip, the Cardinals have won their last four games, putting them back on track to make a push for the playoffs.
The Cards defeated their last three opponents at home, capping the stretch off by celebrating Senior Day with a 90-56 blowout victory over New Paltz.
“It’s always fun to just go out and play,” senior forward Owen Mitchell said, the lone senior on the team’s roster. “I wasn’t really worried about scoring, but my teammates kept telling me to shoot it every time I was open, so I started letting them fly a little bit.”
The senior was in the starting rotation Saturday, which is something he never takes for granted.
“I’ve always appreciated the fact that I’ve been able to play college basketball because not a lot of people get that chance,” he said. “Especially when it’s coming toward the end, and you know you have to move on when it’s all over. It really starts to hit home more. You start to cherish every bit of practice, lifting and games, which is all I am trying to do during these last couple of weeks.”
Mitchell exited the game after 17 minutes but not before knocking down three of five shots from behind the arc and coming up with a huge block on defense to throw an exclamation point on his senior night performance.
“We’ve been preaching defense lately, so I was excited with how we played defensively,” Mitchell said. “This defense is something we’ve been working on for weeks, so I was really happy to see it pay off.”
In the four games prior to PSUC’s four-game winning streak, the Cards were outscored by their opponents by a combined 48 points. On its current streak, the team has been able to outscore its opponents by a combined 56 points, boosting their way into the latter portion of the season.
“I feel like we’ve stepped up our mental game a lot,” Mitchell said. “I think it’s just all a culmination of hard work coming together at the right time.”
The Cards will hit the road this weekend to finish up their season series with Cortland and Oswego State.
“We lost a heart breaker against Oswego and Cortland stomped us the next day,” Mitchell said. “I know everyone is going to come out hungry as hell for these two games.”
Contributions from the bench have been crucial this season. The Cards have scored an average of 31 points off the bench in their last four games, helping take the weight off the shoulders of PSUC’s more consistent scorers.
“I think this young roster is coming along really fast,” sophomore guard Brandon Johnson said. “After all the losses, everybody came together a lot more. We all realized we were better than how we were playing, which made us click more and made the practices more intense.”
Heading into these critical games on the road, the team realizes how important they are in order to make a spot for the playoffs.
“These games are very important,” Johnson said. “We’re going to try to keep up our streak, keep playing defense and to stay on this path since we’re still trying to qualify for the playoffs.”
Email Ezra Kachaturian at firstname.lastname@example.org