DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. It took just 4:48 into the second half for the Plattsburgh State men’s basketball team to squander a 39-28 halftime lead.
And the Cardinals nearly squandered a 5-point lead in the final minute of play.
Plattsburgh, however, hung tough when it needed to and escaped with a 71-68 victory over Millikin University in the Land of Magic Classic on Sunday night.
“For the most part of 34 minutes, we played with great energy and enthusiasm, even on the bench,” Plattsburgh coach Tom Curle said. “We played excellent defense and we rebounded well as a team. We didn’t have one player with a lot of rebounds, but it was spread out across the board.”
Shavar Fields led the Cardinals (5-2) with 17 points, including a 7-for-7 performance from the foul line where Plattsburgh struggled in the first half. The Cardinals hit on 26-of-40 from the line, including 13-of-23 in the first half.
Plattsburgh did go 13-of-17 from the charity stripe over the final 20 minutes, including two free throws by Mike Mitchell with two seconds remaining that gave the Cardinals a 71-67 lead.
“Shavar had a great game and they had trouble guarding him,” Curle said. “But we like to move the ball and create shots.
“But, because of the success he was having, we started trying to get the ball inside to him and that’s not how we play. We’re not a pound the ball inside team and watch him go to work. They were able to take advantage of that.”
Shamoy McIntosh added 15 points for Plattsburgh, while Mitchell and John Perez each tossed in 10.
Tives Gardner paced the Big Blue (6-5) with 17 points and Jacob Kueker added 16. Leading scorer T.J. Griffin, who is averaging just over 20 points per game, was limited to seven.
“Shamoy had a great game guarding him,” Curle said. “I don’t think Griffin was used to being guarded by a player bigger and stronger than him, but also just as quick.”