PLATTSBURGH — Tom Curle didn’t want to sound overly negative.
The Plattsburgh State men’s basketball coach, however, was struggling with his thoughts some following the Cardinals’ 82-75 victory over Oneonta in SUNY Athletic Conference play on Saturday at Memorial Hall.
“Sometimes we rely on our athleticism rather than our skill,” he said. “That happened today. We will need to play better than this if we want to be one of the best teams in the conference.
“That said, we’re still 6-2 in the conference. We have the potential to be a very good basketball team.”
The Cardinals (10-5, 6-2), coming off Friday’s 75-70 home win over New Paltz, appeared to be headed on their way while jumping out to a 23-9 lead in the first half against the Red Dragons (2-12, 1-7), who had lost by 20 points the previous night in Potsdam.
But not so fast.
“No question, we took them lightly and getting off to the early lead like we did may have had something to do with it,” said Curle. “This was our worst defensive effort in a long time.
“I want our players to be loose. But they were past loose today. They were lackadaisical on the court.”
Plattsburgh settled for a 40-33 lead at the half and couldn’t shake Oneonta after intermission. In fact, the Red Dragons rallied for a 65-64 lead, their first lead since scoring the first basket of the game.
That’s when 5-8 guard Mike Mitchell took over. The smallest player on the court played big, scoring eight of Plattsburgh’s final 18 points as the Cardinals were able to regain the momentum down the stretch.
Mitchell hit a 3-pointer and three free throws after getting fouled on a 3-pointer prior to Oneonta tying the game, at 62-all.
After the Red Dragons took their one-point lead, he connected on a two-pointer and then another three to put the Cardinals ahead to stay.
Mitchell tallied 14 points in all, with all 14 coming in the second half. He hit three-of-three from the field and six-of-seven from the foul line.
“Mitchell played very well,” said Curle.
Also having good offensive games for the Cardinals were Shamoy McIntosh with 18 points and Ezra Hodgson with 17. Hodgson also had a couple of key baskets down the stretch.
John Perez and Jordan Moody each added eight points, with Perez getting six rebounds. Chris Manning, despite not scoring, finished with five rebounds, five assists and nine steals.
Zach Mager poured in 26 points for Oneonta and was followed by Jackson Zuvic with 15 and Frankie Kelly, 10. Mager also grabbed eight rebounds.
“Oneonta ran their offense very well and shot the ball well,” said Curle.
The Red Dragons shot 53 percent from the field and 74 percent from the foul line. Plattsburgh, meanwhile shot 49 percent from the field and 68 percent from the foul.
“I told the guys there was good news and bad news,” said Curle. “The good news is that we’re 6-2 in the conference. The bad news is that we’re last in the conference in field-goal percentage.
“We’re not earning our baskets collectively and we have to get better at scoring at the rim where we continue to miss layups.”
The Cardinals now head out on the road for five conference games in a row, the first at Potsdam on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. The Bears also had a 2-0 conference weekend at home, including a 105-95 double-overtime win over New Paltz on Saturday.
Plattsburgh 82, Oneonta 75
Dignan 1-2-5, T. Parker 2-0-5, Kelly 4-1-10, Sarchioto 2-0-4, Mager 8-9-26, Lee 2-3-8, Zuvic 7-0-15, Hooks 0-2-2, Thomsen 0-0-0, Segarra 0-0-0. Totals: 26-17-75.
Manning 0-0-0, McIntosh 7-2-18, Perez 3-2-8, Moody 1-6-8, Hodgson 7-1-17, Mitchell 3-6-14, Ottey 0-0-0, Williams 2-0-4, Fields 1-0-2, K. Parker 2-0-6, O’Shea 1-0-2, Correa 1-0-3. Totals: 28-17-82.
Halftime: Plattsburgh, 40-33.
3-point goals: Oneonta (6): Dignan; T. Parker; Kelly; Mager; Lee; Zuvic. Plattsburgh (9): McIntosh 2; Hodgson 2; Mitchell 2; K. Parker 2; Correa.