PLATTSBURGH — What looked to be a somewhat comfortable win Tuesday turned into to anything but one for Plattsburgh State.
The Cardinals (2-1) led by as many as 14 in the second half, but they saw St. Lawrence (0-2) trim their advantage to one point with 26.9 seconds remaining.
Two makes at the charity stripe apiece from Travis Cox and Axel Rodriguez with 16.8 and 6.1 seconds remaining, respectively, sent Plattsburgh to an 89-84 win against the Saints in non-conference men's basketball at Memorial Hall.
The victory was Mike Blaine's first at home in his tenure with the Cardinals, and he praised his players for sticking together when their backs were against the wall.
"It's a team that's really, really hungry," Blaine said. "Certainly hasn't figured it all out yet and is learning and growing still. We have talked about learning how to shut the door on somebody when you have an opportunity.
"We showed a little bit of impatience and some poor decision making, but boy, these guys play hard, and they play together. They care for each other and come together at important times."
Nick DeAngelis led the way with a game-high 20 points for Plattsburgh, and Cameron Ness finished with a double-double thanks to 15 points and 12 boards.
Jeremy Eisenman (18), Cox (14) and Rodriguez (12) also hit double digits in the points category to boost an all-around scoring effort by the Cardinals.
"We take a lot of pride in sharing the load," Blaine said. "This is not going to be a team where one guy is going to have to put us on his shoulders or carry us on his back every single night. We do a great job of sharing the burden with each other and sharing the ball with each other."
After a back-and-forth first half, Plattsburgh took control early in the second.
A bucket from Ness just 1:21 into the second half kicked off a 26-6 run that gave the Cardinals a 68-52 lead with 10:37 remaining in the game.
Quality defense led to quality offense for Plattsburgh, which was not as much of the case in the first half.
"Defensive commitment and work on the glass," said Blaine, mentioning what differences there were between the first and second halves. "We did not do a great job getting back in the first half. Some of that is conditioning, and some of that is confusion on some of the matchups. We are still trying to figure ourselves out a bit.
"We put a lot better emphasis on getting back and getting our defense established early. We did a great job on the backboard in the second half. We were minus three in the first half and plus 11 in the second."
St. Lawrence's last run came to the forefront when an 85-74 Cardinals' lead was cut to just one point thanks to two treys from Andrew Geschickter, a bucket from Brandon Arnold and a layup from Chris Jeffrey.
That was as close as the Saints got before Cox and Rodriguez iced matters.
Luke Hicks and Arnold tied for a team-high 17 points to power St. Lawrence, and Jeffrey had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Plattsburgh next plays at SUNY Poly at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The contest starts a stretch of four consecutive road games for the Cardinals, who will not return home until they host Clarkson on Jan. 4.
Plattsburgh's home opener left a lasting impression on Blaine and the Cardinals.
"Cardinal Country came out in full force," Blaine said. "I was blown away stepping in and seeing so many people out supporting the women's team and our guys. Cardinal Country was a big part of this game (Tuesday) because we were a little unsettled early, and they kept us in it."
Plattsburgh State 89, St. Lawrence 84
St. Lawrence (84)
Hicks 7-2-17, Arnold 7-0-17, Adamson 7-0-14, Jeffrey 5-0-10, Sargent 2-0-5, Geschickter 5-0-14, Davis 3-1-7, Harrison 0-0-0, Friedland 0-0-0, Scotnicki 0-0-0. Totals: 36-3-84.
Plattsburgh State (89)
Eisenman 6-1-18, Ness 7-1-15, Cox 5-4-14, Rodriguez 3-4-12, Salo 3-1-7, DeAngelis 7-2-20, Todd 1-0-3, Marshall 0-0-0. Totals: 32-13-89.
Halftime- St. Lawrence, 41-40.
3 point goals- St. Lawrence (9) Hicks, Arnold 3, Sargent, Geschickter 4. Plattsburgh State (12) Eisenman 5, Rodriguez 2, DeAngelis 4, Todd.
Email Joey LaFranca: