POTSDAM, N.Y. – The SUNY Potsdam men’s basketball team executed at key moments on Friday night, gutting out a 62-60 overtime victory over SUNY Cortland in a State University of New York Athletic Conference contest at Maxcy Hall’s Jerry Welsh Gymnasium.
Sophomore Curtis Pierce (Brooklyn, N.Y.) hit the go-ahead free throw in the extra period and sophomore Josh Lambert (Brooklyn, N.Y.) added one more to give the Bears (7-14 overall, 6-8 SUNYAC) a gritty win in front of a large crowd on the school’s eighth annual Bear Pride Night.
Cortland (7-14, 4-10) had two chances to score on the final possession, but Kevin McMahon’s lay-up attempt ,following a 3-point try by Jesse Winter, didn’t get over the rim, sending Potsdam fans into a frenzy.
“We were down four or five points toward the end of the game, just like we had been earlier this season (in a win) at Oneonta,” Potsdam coach Sherry Dobbs said. “We just tried to emphasize offensive execution and our guys battled. We weren’t great on defense but we got important stops.”
The Bears forced overtime after trailing 55-50 with 3:24 to play in regulation. Three possessions after Pierce made it a 57-56 game with a pair of free throws, Lambert tied it from the stripe with 25 seconds on the clock. The Red Dragons’ McMahon had a good look at an 18-footer, but it hit the back of the rim.
Potsdam shot 51.1 percent from the field for the game while holding Cortland to 43.1 percent shooting. However, the Bears struggled at times against the Red Dragons’ extended zone defense, which forced Potsdam turnovers.
“Their zone caused problems for us,” Dobbs said. “We tried to get the ball into the high post or the short corner, and when we did, we got to the free throw line. It wasn’t pretty but we executed at key times. I really liked the way Josh Lambert and Curtis Pierce attacked the basket.”
Pierce recorded his fifth double-double of the year with 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead Potsdam, which shot 9-of-11 from the free throw line in the second half after not attempting any in the first. Lambert finished with 10 points and five rebounds off the bench, while freshman Tony Efese (Spring Valley, N.Y.) scored a season-high 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field.
“A number of guys stepped up for us, and I thought our bench was very good again,” Dobbs said.
The Bears return to the floor tomorrow against Oswego. Tip-off is slated for 4 p.m. Senior Eddie Cross (Hudson, N.Y.) will be recognized prior to the game in his second-to-last game at Welsh Gymnasium.