Pierce, Potsdam topple SLU in OT thriller, 68-66
POTSDAM, N.Y.—Senior captain Curtis Pierce hit a layup with two seconds left in overtime to give the SUNY Potsdam men's basketball team (2-4) its first win over St. Lawrence University (2-4) exactly five years. Bears' senior guard Mark Lake, Jr. led all scorers with 19 points, while Pierce finished with 12 points and six boards. Saint junior forward Janpeter Brase recorded a double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds.
After trading baskets and leads over the first five minutes of the opening half, Saint freshman guard Leondre Simmon hit a three-pointer to put St. Lawrence up 13-12 and spark a 12-1 run. At 9:18, Saints junior guard Al Jones made a layup that gave SLU a 25-13 lead and put the Bears on the ropes. Potsdam sophomore forward Zac Adams quickly cut the lead with four straight points and ignited a Bears' run. After a missed three by Lake, Jr. junior forward Colin Peterson grabbed the rebound and laid it in to tie the score at 27-27 with 3:56 on the clock. Lake made an easy layup after a steal with 1:15 left to give Potsdam a 31-28 advantage. The Bears took a 32-31 lead into the locker room.
In the second half, St. Lawrence slowly built a lead and two free throws from junior guard Payton Stahler gave the Saints a 42-37 advantage with 15 minutes remaining. Again the Bears answered. Potsdam freshman forward Rob Lamont started an 8-0 streak with a layup and Pierce gave the Bears a 45-42 lead with 11 to play. The Saints rallied again and the game remained tight throughout the rest of regulation. SLU turned the ball over with the score tied at 54 and five seconds on the clock, but a missed Potsdam jumper as time expired sent the contest to overtime.
Lake got the Bears started quickly with a layup just three seconds into the extra period. With the score tied at 58, Lake then hit four straight free throws for a 62-58 lead. As Potsdam looked to pull away, SLU's Jones knocked down a three to cut the gap to 62-61. Again Lake answered with a three-point play to put the Bears back up 65-61 and had the Saints on the brink with 57 seconds left. This time it was SLU senior guard Kyle Miller drilling a three to make it 65-64. After a Potsdam turnover, Brase hit a layup to put the Saints up by one with five seconds to play. After a Bears' timeout, Adams inbounded the ball to Pierce who hit the layup and was fouled with two seconds left. The captain then sealed the 68-66 win with a free throw.
Potsdam shot 39 percent from the floor, while St. Lawrence hit 37 percent of its shots. Both teams struggled from beyond the arc as the Bears were just 1 for 12 and SLU was 4 for 14. The Saints out-rebounded Potsdam 51-42 on the night.
Junior captain Rob Duquette and Adams each had solid performances with 10 and nine points, respectively.
Miller finished with 12 points and six rebounds and Stahler contributed another 11. Jones chipped in nine points and seven boards.
“The thing I was most pleased with was that we never stopped competing,” said Bears Head Coach Sherry Dobbs. “Down with five seconds left, we turned the ball over and they scored and we could have deflated, but we kept playing and executing. We wanted to get the ball into Curtis' hands and let him drive and make a play. We never stopped fighting. That's something we've got to take from tonight's game.”
Dobbs saw many clutch performances from his players on the night.
“He (Lake) made some plays down the stretch and was able to get to the free throw line. He can get dribble penetration and get to the rim. That's a dangerous skill to guard. And Josh Lambert made some really big plays at times too. We struggled shooting from the perimeter and our post-up game wasn't great, but both of those guys got to the basket gave us some opportunities to score. Also, Corey Ellis and Zac Adams came off the bench and played really, really well with Rob and Colin.”
The Bears host Buffalo State and Fredonia State in two SUNYAC matchups this weekend. Potsdam hosts the Bengals at 8 p.m. on Friday and the Blue Devils 4 p.m. on Saturday.