March 11, 2014

Cards set to face returning champion Amherst

PLATTSBURGH — Last season, the Amherst College men’s basketball team took down everything in its way while winning the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Amherst, which had a first-round bye, defeated five tournament opponents by an average of 16 points a game.

One of the notches on the Lord Jeffs’ belt was a decisive 89-72 home victory over Plattsburgh State in the second round.

The Cardinals (24-5) return to LeFrak Gymnasium on Friday night to battle the seventh-ranked Lord Jeffs (25-3) in a rematch, this time in the round of 16.

“I think last year’s game left a bitter taste in our players’ mouths,” Plattsburgh coach Tom Curle. “We’re going back there this year to play a good team on their court.

“We’re going to have to play great basketball. But it’s not so much about us playing Amherst because we’re in the final round of 16 and we’re going to play a good team whoever we play at some point in their gym. It’s more about us playing the way we’re capable of.”

Playing on the Lord Jeffs’ court last season should be a benefit to the Cardinals this year.

“It doesn’t hurt,” Curle said. “Our players know the gym, the atmosphere and the routine. They went through it last year and should know what to expect. That can only help us.”

It will be a 4-team regional with Richard Stockton (25-4) taking on surprising Morrisville State (21-8) in the other game.

Stockton gets Morrisville in the first game at 5:30 p.m., with Plattsburgh and Amherst set for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.

Friday’s survivors will play on Saturday, with a berth in the final four on the line.

The Cardinals, who were an at-large selection into the NCAA Tournament, took care of business this past weekend with a 76-53 victory over Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a 70-60 win over Eastern Connecticut State in regional play.

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