PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh State senior John Perez had a good reason why he had a big game Saturday night.
“I stayed on the court (Saturday),” he said.
Perez was limited to just 10 minutes because of foul trouble in Friday’s 76-53 victory over Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Perez put in 40 minutes on Saturday, scoring 21 points and grabbing 15 rebounds to lead the Cardinals (24-5) to a hard-earned 70-60 win over Eastern Connecticut State in NCAA Division III regional men’s basketball play at Memorial Hall.
The win sends Plattsburgh into the round of 16 at defending national champion Amherst College this coming weekend in a 4-team regional.
It took more than Perez, however, to get the job done against the Warriors (23-7).
“We came out with so much energy (Saturday) that I think it worked against us,” Plattsburgh coach Tom Curle said. “We relaxed more in the second half and came up big in the clutch.
“John is tough inside. Pound for pound and inch for inch, he’s as good as any post player in the country. I feel his matchup against an opponent is always an advantage for us and he has put in four years of hard work.”
Shamoy McIntosh added 14 points and Mike Mitchell 11 of the bench for the Cardinals. Chris Manning and Ezra Hodgson chipped in with eight points each, with Manning also dishing out five assists and recording three steals.
The Warriors held a 31-28 advantage following a back-and-forth first half.
“I felt we were fortunate to be ahead at the half because we hit only 3-of-17 on 3-pointers,” Eastern Connecticut coach Bill Geitner said. “We did other things well and I felt we did a good job controlling the tempo and the glass.
“But we continued to shoot poorly in the second half. We broke down a little with our defense and rebounding. Our kids played hard, but we rely a lot on jumpers. Give credit to Plattsburgh.”