BY JOHN CORYER
---- — PLATTSBURGH — For a young team appearing in its first NCAA Division III Tournament game, the Plattsburgh State men’s basketball team sure looked like it had been there before.
The Cardinals (20-8) received a strong team effort in a solid 84-63 victory over Husson University at Memorial Hall Saturday night.
Plattsburgh never trailed after taking a 5-4 lead in the early going.
“Our quickness was a difference in the game,” Plattsburgh coach Tom Curle said. “I’m sure Husson scouted us and saw how quick we were. But until you play against us, you don’t know how quick we really are.
“We hurt them in transition in the first half. They made an adjustment at the half and then we had to make one.”
The Cardinals, in winning 20 games for the fourth time in program history, also shot the ball extremely well. Plattsburgh hit 32-of-58 from the field and 9-of-19 from 3-point range.
“We came out and shot the ball well,” Curle said. “When you shoot that well, you’re going to look great. We shot 55 percent from the field.”
Plattsburgh received excellent scoring balance, with Ezra Hodgson leading the way with 15 points, including 6-of-7 from the field and 3-of-3 from beyond the arc.
“When Ezra hit his first 3-pointer, that made me feel a lot better,” Curle said.
Hodgson and his teammates also did a good job defending Husson’s 6-foot-10-inch center Marc Zaharchuk. Zaharchuk scored 12 points, but was limited to just 5-of-14 shooting from the field.
“I don’t want opponents to score on me,” Hodgson said. “I did my best against him — he’s huge.”
“We knew their height was going to be a challenge for us,” Curle said. “We did a good job double teaming him (Zaharchuk). It was a total team effort.”
Jordan Moody added 13 points, while Chris Manning and Shamoy McIntosh added 11 each, and Reggie Williams and Kalik Parker 10 apiece, giving the Cardinals six players in double figures.
Manning also added team highs of seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
“We have a lot of depth,” Manning said. “Whoever gets it going for us, I’m going to get him the ball.”
Eric Modica led the Eagles (20-9) with 13 points, while Zaharchuk added 12 and Wes Murphy 11.
The Cardinals’ defense was a factor as the Eagles shot only 36.8 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from 3-point range.
“We were able to frustrate them,” Curle said.
Plattsburgh held a 39-35 rebounding edge, even without leading rebounder John Perez, who is lost for the season with a broken fibula.
The Cardinals continued to build on their first-half lead and took a 41-25 advantage into intermission.
Husson went on a run to open the second half and cut the Cardinals’ lead to 46-37 on a Jacob Moore 3-pointer.
But two inside baskets by Williams and one by McIntosh put Plattsburgh back on top, 52-37. The Eagles made one last run later in the half when they scored nine points in a row to make it 63-53.
But that would be as close as the Eagles would get as the Cardinals finished the game on a 21-10 burst. Eight Plattsburgh players scored in that stretch, with Manning getting six of the points.
Plattsburgh, unlike in some regular season games, didn’t allow Husson to go on a large enough run to get some confidence, even though Curle says there’s always room for improvement.
“I think our team does it intentionally just to give me more gray hair,” Curle said. “We throw long passes near the end of games with a lead when we should be working the clock.
“But you can’t make a thoroughbred into a trotter. It’s hard to slow us down. But we can get better.”
The Cardinals were able to play their final home game of the season in front of a near packed house.
“It was a great atmosphere,”Manning said. “It was exciting.”
It only gets more difficult now for the Cardinals, who will play at Amherst College at 7 p.m. Saturday in the second round. The Lord Jeffs, who had a bye in the opening round, are ranked second in the country.
Plattsburgh 84, Husson 63
Spaulding 3-0-6, Modica 4-4-13, Murphy 4-1-11, Wood 0-7-7, Zaharchuk 5-2-12, Butler 0-0-0, Moore, 1-3-6, Dube 0-0-0, Leighton 3-0-6, Willis 1-0-2, Cottonham 0-0-0, Burgo 0-0-0, Fleming 0-0-0, Klages 0-0-0. Totals: 21-17-63.
Manning 4-2-11, McIntosh 4-2-11, Williams 5-0-10, Moody 4-5-13, Hodgson 6-0-15, Mitchell 0-1-1, Ottey 0-0-0, Outlaw 1-0-2, Tibbs 1-0-2, Fields 1-0-2, Parker 3-1-10, O’Shea 0-0-0, Correa 1-0-3, Siergiej 2-0-4. Totals: 32-58-84.
Halftime: Plattsburgh, 41-25.
3-point goals: Husson (4); Murphy 2; Modica; Moore. Plattsburgh (9): Parker 3; Hodgson 3; Manning; McIntosh; Correa.