PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh State men’s basketball coach Tom Curle said earlier in the week his team needed to compete hard for 40 minutes Friday night against SUNY Athletic Conference power Cortland.
He certainly got what he was looking for.
Only a few days after losing standout forward John Perez to a season-ending injury, six Cardinals hit in double figures in a rousing 80-77 win over the Red Dragons at Memorial Hall.
With the victory, Plattsburgh (17-7, 13-4) clinched second place in the standings and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
The Cardinals, who moved to within one game of the Red Dragons (20-4, 14-3), close out their regular season at 4 p.m. today against Oswego, which recorded a 76-65 win at Potsdam on Friday.
“We clinched second place, but even if we beat Oswego and Cortland loses to Potsdam, Cortland has the tie-breaker over us,” said Curle.
But that’s for another day.
“(Friday) was a great college basketball game,” said Curle. “It was great atmosphere and both teams played well. Players were making play after play.”
Kalik Parker led the Cardinals with 16 points, while Jordan Moody and Ezra Hodgson each hit for 14, Chris Manning and Shamoy McIntosh 11 apiece, and Reggie Williams, 10.
Manning nearly finished with a triple-double as he also had 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals.
“Manning brings excitement to the game,” Curle said. “His knack for quickness is under control and he takes advantage of his teammate’s strengths.”
The Cardinals shot 45.2 percent from the field, 47.8 percent from 3-point range and 81.3 percent from the line.
“Even though our field-goal percentage was down early in the season, we still have good shooters,” Curle said. “We just shoot the ball too early sometimes and that happened a couple of times (Friday).”
Plattsburgh also turned the ball over just seven times. The one area that could have been better was on the boards where the Red Dragons held a 43-34 advantage.
“Make no mistake about it, we miss John’s (Perez) defensive presence,” Curle said. “We got outrebounded tonight and they had 15 offensive rebounds. I don’t think that would have happened with John in there.”
Jeremy Smith connected on six 3-pointers and led the Red Dragons with 24 points. Standout point guard Jesse Winter added 18 points, while Harrison Hefele and Kevin McMahon each scored 10. Winter dished out eight assists and McMahon pulled down 11 rebounds.
“Winter’s their all-time leading scorer,” Curle said. “He’s a great player.”
Brian Manning hit a 3-pointer with 1:14 left in the contest to bring the Red Dragons to within, 75-74.
But McIntosh hit two from the line with 32.9 seconds left and Chris Manning one from the line with 30.6 seconds remaining to make it 78-74.
Smith’s 3-pointer brought Cortland back to within 78-77 before McIntosh sank two from the line with 19 seconds left.
Plattsburgh then played great defense and Cortland was only able to manage a long desperation 3-pointer that missed as time ran out.
“We were able to get some rebounds near the end of the game,” Curle said.
The Cardinals led by as many as 10 points in the first half before the Red Dragons went on a 10-0 run in the later stages to tie it, at 35-all. McIntosh’s 3-pointer gave Plattsburgh a 40-38 halftime lead.
The second half was closely contested throughout, with Plattsburgh’s biggest lead being six points and Cortland holding no more than a 1-point advantage.
The Cardinals remained unbeaten in conference play at home.
“The Oswego game is going to be our final home game of the season and it’s going to be a high-level game,” Curle said. “We’re hoping the fans come out and see it.”
Smith 9-0-24, Winter 7-1-18, Hefele 4-0-10, Sternkopf 1-0-2, McMahon 3-4-10, Herron 1-2-4, B. Manning 3-0-9, Spendjian 0-0-0. Totals: 28-7-77.
C. Manning 3-4-11, McIntosh 2-5-11, Williams 4-2-10, Moody 6-0-14, Hodgson 6-0-14, Mitchell 0-0-0, Fields 1-2-4, Parker 6-0-16, O’Shea 0-0-0, Correa 0-0-0. Totals: 28-13-80.
Halftime: Plattsburgh, 40-38.
3-point goals: Cortland (14): Smith 6; Winter 3; B. Manning 3; Hefele 2. Plattsburgh (11): Parker 4; McIntosh 2; Moody 2; Hodgson 2; C. Manning.