PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh coach Mike Blaine believes his team is playing better for longer stretches in games, but he still needs the Cardinals to put together a complete performance.
Plattsburgh (1-4) saw glimpses of what it hopes will lead to more positive results in the future on Tuesday, but the Cardinals fell 92-79 to SUNY Poly (2-2) at Memorial Hall in non-conference men's basketball.
"Our guys recognize we are making positive strides, but it's difficult to see that when the end result is based on wins or losses," Blaine said. "Our guys are seeing that we are playing better for longer stretches and that we just need to continue to put things together."
Jesse O'Dell dropped a triple-double with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists to lead the Wildcats, and Josh Gregory finished with a game-high 31 points.
Axel Rodriguez and Erik Salo both totaled 16 points to pace Plattsburgh, and Cameron Ness double-doubled with 15 points and 11 boards.
SUNY Poly was scorching hot from the field and shot 78.57% in the first half and 64.3% for the game.
A combination of good shooting as well as poor defensive execution, Blaine said, led to the hot night for the Wildcats.
"I told the guys that I don't think we did a good job executing our defensive scout right away," Blaine said.
"We needed to keep putting our game plan into action right away, and they got off to a burst in the first four minutes. We can't spot teams those outbursts right away. We have to make sure we are ready to execute and play the scouting report more accurately."
With the young Cardinal roster, some players are still getting their first tastes of college basketball, but Blaine also acknowledged some adjustments need to be made moving forward.
SUNY Poly jumped out to a 14-4 lead less than four minutes into the first half and set the tone.
After a timeout and some better play on defense, Plattsburgh took a 25-24 lead after Sheriff Conteh laid down the law with a triple with 9:44 left in the opening half, but the Cardinals led for just 20 seconds.
The Wildcats took a 50-44 lead into halftime and led by as many as 16 in the second half.
The closest Plattsburgh got to SUNY Poly in the final frame came with 4:58 remaining when Rodriguez pocketed a corner triple, but the Wildcats had the answer on the other end when LJ Randle stuck a trey from straight away to eliminate any momentum the Cardinals created.
"The biggest key to momentum is stringing together consecutive stops," Blaine said.
"We work on that in practice where we try to get three stops in a row on the defensive end of the floor in drills, and I don't think we put those stops together at any point tonight. You can't expect to get buckets every time down the floor, so you have to get defensive stops to allow the offense to get going."
TABB AND THE BENCH
Plattsburgh was without leading scorer Kevin Tabb who was away from the team dealing with a personal matter.
He has averaged 15 points per game through four contests and also averages a team-high 31.5 minutes per game.
Blaine said he does not expect a long-term absence from Tabb.
"We certainly completely support Kevin," Blaine said. "He has a personal matter he is attending to. As we talk with our guys every day, faith and family are number one. Academics are after that, and then comes basketball."
Tabb's absence caused some adjustments to the starting lineup as well as bench minutes. The Cardinals outscored the Wildcats, 25-14, in bench points.
Conteh provided a team-high 14 points off the bench for Plattsburgh.
"We are looking for a little more efficiency and a couple guys to bring off the bench that can find their way to some form," Blaine said.
"That will be helpful for us with the back-to-back SUNYAC weekends coming up. We are looking for guys coming off the bench who can execute defensively and have a good solid grasp of the offense and can score the basketball."
The Cardinals will have the next few days off for Thanksgiving break and will return to practice on Saturday before starting an important SUNYAC stretch to close out the first semester.
Plattsburgh plays at home on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. against Potsdam before welcoming Oneonta and New Paltz that following weekend.
"We have an opportunity next week with three games at home to get out to a good start in the SUNYAC," Blaine said.
"With the students back and the community, we hope that Cardinal Country will come out and recognize the hard work our guys are putting in. We really value their support."
SUNY Poly 92, Plattsburgh State 79
SUNY Poly (92)
Randle 6-0-13, Kernizan 4-1-9, Gregory 10-4-28, J. Ernst 2-0-5, O'Dell 11-1-23, Rodriguez 0-4-4, Grant 0-0-0, Nelson 2-2-7, D. Ernst 1-0-3, Wilbur 0-0-0. Totals: 36-12-92.
Todd 1-1-4, Salo 5-6-16, Rodriguez 5-5-16, Wright 1-0-3, Ness 6-3-15, Conteh 6-0-14, Cary 1-0-2, Blanchett 2-0-5, Cassiano 2-0-4. Totals: 29-15-79.
Halftime- SUNY Poly, 50-44.
3 point goals- SUNY Poly (8) Randle, Gregory 4, J. Ernst, Nelson, D. Ernst. Plattsburgh (6) Todd, Rodriguez, Wright, Conteh 2, Blanchett.
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