February 26, 2013

Cardinals land in NCAA hoop tourney

PLATTSBURGH — A year removed from an 8-18 season, Plattsburgh State’s remarkable turnaround in 2012-13 has earned Tom Curle’s basketball Cardinals an at-large berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament.

The Cardinals (19-8) found out Monday they were one of 62 teams chosen for the event. They will host Husson University at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Memorial Hall in a first-round game.

Husson (20-8), from Bangor, Me., captured the North Atlantic Conference Tournament championship this past Saturday with a 74-68 win over Castleton State. The Eagles have won their conference three of the past five years.

“I definitely felt we had a chance to get in,” said Plattsburgh sophomore guard Mike Mitchell. “We were a little down after we lost on Saturday at Cortland (75-61) in the conference title game. But, despite the loss, I felt we could get in.

“It would have been exciting for us just to make it. But it was huge when we found out we were playing at home in the first round.”

Plattsburgh coach Tom Curle was hoping for the best, but wasn’t counting on it being a done deal.

“I felt we had done enough to get in,” he said. “But the way the system works, you have to get to the table to be considered and that’s what I was worried the most about. I felt if we got to the table, we had a pretty good resume.

“Stevens and Rochester are ranked ahead of us in the region and they didn’t win their conferences. So they got to the table ahead of us. If they didn’t get in, we didn’t have a chance to do so. But, no question, our strength of schedule was strong and our conference was very strong.

The home game was an added thrill.

“I was ecstatic we got a home game. I think we’ve kind of crept up on area fans this year and this gives us another game at home. I’m happy for the players.”

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