---- — LANCASTER, Pa. — The Plattsburgh State men’s basketball team had trouble shaking off the rust Wednesday night.
Not a good thing when you’re playing the No. 8-ranked team in the country in Division III.
Hayk Gyokchyan poured in 40 points, including 14-of-16 from the field and six-of-eight from 3-point range as the host Diplomats recorded a 71-55 win over the Cardinals in the opening round of the Sponaugle New Year’s Tournament.
Jon Salandra added 10 points and a team-high 10 rebounds for Franklin & Marshall.
John Perez paced the Cardinals with 15 points and six rebounds. Shamoy McIntosh added 11 points and Kalik Parker, 10. Perez was five-of-nine from the field and McIntosh went four-of-six. Chris Manning dished out four assists and Mike Mitchell, three.
Plattsburgh (7-3) was stuck at 16 points for a long time in the first half before trailing by a 39-20 score after 20 minutes.
“We were stuck in the mud for a while and I do attribute that to rust,” said Plattsburgh coach Tom Curle. “You never knew what to work on in practice when you come back from the break. But you can’t spend all the time working on execution. You have to spend some time on conditioning.
“I felt we looked a little tired out there and Franklin & Marshall is a very good team.”
Plattsburgh did get its act together in the second half, cutting its deficit to seven points at one time.
The Diplomats (9-1), however, were able to widen the lead again in the closing minutes.
“We picked up the pace in the second half and had it down to seven,” said Curle. “Then we were able to get a couple of steals off their turnovers. But we weren’t able to come away with any shots because we turned it back over.”
Gyokchyan, the leading scorer on the season for the Diplomats, made sure the Cardinals were kept at bay.
“That’s another post player who had a career game against us,” lamented Curle.
Still, Curle was able to take the positive out of the game.
“We played bad basketball for a time,” he said. “But the players never gave up and I’m proud of them for that. Franklin & Marshall is a physical team and it was a physical and emotional game for us.”
The Cardinals will look to get back in the win column today at 6 p.m. when they take on Salisbury in the consolation game. Salisbury dropped a 75-55 contest to Eastern Connecticut State in the first game on Wednesday.
Curle, however, said don’t read too much into that score.
“They are very athletic,” he said. “They beat then No. 1 Virginia Wesleyan (76-67) a couple of weeks ago. So they’re very good.
“They had the same issues as we did tonight.”
Franklin & Marshall 71, Plattsburgh 55
Hodgson 1-0-2, Manning 0-0-0, McIntosh 4-3-11, Perez 5-5-15, Moody 2-0-5, Mitchell 1-2-4, Ottey 0-0-0, Outlaw 0-0-0, Tibbs 0-1-1, Williams 0-0-0, Fields 2-0-4, Baker 0-0-0, Parker 4-0-10, O’Shea 0-0-0, Correa 1-0-3, Siergiej 0-0-0. Totals: 20-11-55.
Franklin & Marshall (71)
Gyokchyan 14-6-40. Porter 1-0-3, Beckford 0-3-3, Salandra 4-2-10, Phelps 0-0-0, Early 2-2-6, Figueroa 1-1-3, Moune 0-0-0, Lee 1-0-2. Totals: 23-18-71.
Halftime: Franklin & Marshall, 39-20.
3-point goals: Plattsburgh (4): Parker 2; Moody; Correa. Franklin & Marshall (7): Gyokchyan 6; Porter.