CORTLAND — Kalik Parker kept the Plattsburgh State men’s basketball team in the game in the first half Friday night.
And his teammates took over in the second half.
The second-seeded Cardinals (19-7) advanced to the SUNY Athletic Conference Tournament championship game with a 77-67 victory over third-seeded Geneseo.
Plattsburgh will play host and top-seeded Cortland, a 65-54 winner over Oswego, in today’s 4 p.m. title contest.
“It was a total team effort,” Plattsburgh coach Tom Curle said. “I’m really proud of this team — they earned the right to be in the championship game.
“That gives us 19 wins and that’s pretty good.”
The Cardinals held a 30-28 lead at the half thanks to Parker, who scored 17 points off 6-for-6 shooting from the field and 5-for-5 shooting from 3-point range.
“No question, Parker kept us in the game in the first half,” Curle said. “It was the first experience like this for some of the guys. They were playing hard, but not with a lot of composure.
“I told the guys at the half just to relax and let the game come to them. We’re certainly good enough a team.”
The opening 20 minutes was close throughout, with neither team able to go on a run.
The Cardinals regained the upper hand in the second half, leading by as many as nine points, before the Knights rallied back into a 50-all tie.
“After they tied it, we really settled in and scored the next 11 points in a row,” Curle said.
“We played really well, especially in the second half. We ran our stuff, hit the open man and were able to get some open layups.”
Parker finished the evening with a game-high 20 points. Jordan Moody also hit in double figures with 14 and Shamoy McIntosh added 11.
Reggie Williams contributed eight points and a team-high 10 rebounds, while Chris Manning dished out seven assists. Ezra Hodgson chipped in with seven rebounds and Shavar Fields added five.