By JOHN CORYER
---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh State men’s basketball team’s first-half lead was cut to 28-26 when Potsdam scored six points in a row.
But when Mike Mitchell nailed a 3-pointer and Jordan Moody followed with a thunderous dunk along the baseline, the Cardinals were on their way to a 92-69 victory in SUNY Athletic Conference play at Memorial Hall Tuesday night.
With the win, Plattsburgh (16-7, 12-4) moved closer to clinching the second seed in the conference tournament, with conference-leading Cortland and Oswego coming to town this weekend to close out the regular season.
The victory, however, may have been costly for Plattsburgh. John Perez, who scored 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field in the first half, left early on in the second half with an injury and was taken to the hospital.
The Cardinals hit 35-of-68 shots from the field, good for 51.5 percent, and were 14-of-17 from the foul line.
“We played well tonight — and shot the ball well,” Plattsburgh coach Tom Curle said.
Perez and Shamoy McIntosh led the Cardinals with 14 points each, while Moody finished with 13, and both Chris Manning and Shavar Fields 10 apiece.
Reggie Williams added nine points, a team-high 12 rebounds and three blocked shots, and Manning, who leads all of Division III in steals, ended up with seven steals and seven assists.
“Reggie Williams continues to play good basketball for us, especially on the boards,” Curle said.
Mark Lake Jr. paced the Bears (9-14, 5-11) with 14 points, while Curtis Pierce and former Peru Central standout Rob Duquette chipped in with 12 apiece. Duquette also had four rebounds.
The Cardinals, however, limited Pierce, who came in averaging 18 points a game, to only 3-of-11 from the field.
It was an emotional game between the two North Country rivals.
“It was emotional from start to finish,” Curle said. “We were able to increase our intensity and focus, except for two or three times when we lost our composure — myself included.
“Each game, we learn something about ourselves. Tonight, we showed that, in an emotional game, we were able to lift our level of intensity and focus to the point where we played very well. It was a good win for us.”
The Cardinals led, 28-20, before the Bears went on their six-point run to make it, 28-26.
Plattsburgh then rattled off nine points in a row and closed out the first 20 minutes on a 13-2 run to take a 41-28 halftime advantage.
The Cardinals opened the second half on a 7-2 run for a 48-30 lead and, despite six points in a row by the Bears, were able to open up their biggest lead of the game, at 63-41.
Potsdam began to chip away and cut its deficit to 11 points, at 69-58, before Plattsburgh outscored the Bears, 23-11, the rest of the way to break it open.
Every time Potsdam went on a run, the Cardinals had an answer.
“A lot of that had to do with Chris Manning and Jordan Moody,” Curle said. “Chris had seven more steals tonight and it felt that Jordan had more than 13 points. He played an amazing game.”
The Cardinals finished with a 35-32 advantage on the boards. Plattsburgh also had a combined 20 assists, five blocked shots and 14 steals. The Cardinals’ defense forced Potsdam into 20 turnovers.
The Cardinals, who trail Cortland by two games in the loss column with two games remaining, didn’t get any help from New Paltz Tuesday night. The Red Dragons rolled to a one-sided 87-47 win over the Hawks.
Plattsburgh 92, Potsdam 69
Lambert 4-1-9, Lake Jr., 4-6-14, Pierce 3-4-12, Duquette 5-2-12, Adams 3-0-6, Estramonte 1-3-6, Williams 2-2-6, Peterson 0-2-2, McIntyre 1-0-2. Totals: 23-20-69.
Manning 3-3-10, McIntosh 4-3-14, Perez 7-0-14, Moody 6-1-13, Hodgson 2-0-4, Mitchell 1-0-3, Ottey 0-0-0, Outlaw 0-0-0, Tibbs 0-0-0, Williams 2-5-9, Fields 4-2-10, Baker 1-0-2, Parker 3-0-8, O’Shea 0-0-0, Correa 1-0-3, Siergiej 1-0-2. Totals: 35-14-92.
Halftime: Plattsburgh, 41-28.
3-point goals: Potsdam (3): Pierce 2; Estramonte. Plattsburgh (8): McIntosh 3; Parker 2; Manning; Mitchell; Correa.