Defense leads Potsdam to opening night victory
UTICA, N.Y.- The SUNY Potsdam men's basketball team used a strong defensive performance to knock off Utica College in their season opener. The Bears (1-0) held Utica to 37 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers as they came away with a 72-67 win. Junior Curtis Pierce turned in a solid all-around performance with 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
The Pioneers (0-1) jumped out to an early 12-8 lead but the Bears would settle in and score eight straight points with the final basket scored by sophomore Greg Torchon with a driving layup. Utica responded and cut the lead to two points before Potsdam took control again. Senior Brad Drysdale hit a slashing layup to give the Bears their biggest lead of the half at 38-27 with four minutes left. Utica would battle down the stretch and manage to cut the lead to 41-34 at the break.
The defenses tightened and the teams managed only 25 points in the first 13 minutes of the second half. Pioneers forward Alex Meyer buried a jumper with 6:23 remaining to cut Potsdam's lead to 53-51 but sophomore Rob Duquette grabbed a big offensive rebound and finished in the paint to five the Bears a four point lead. After exchanging free throws, Drysdale finished another basket in the paint and sophomore Tony Efese knocked down a three pointer to give Potsdam an insurmountable nine point lead with 3 minutes left. Utica would continue to battle but couldn't come closer than five points.
The Bears held the Pioneers to 3-12 (25%) shooting from the three point line in the second half. They also punished Utica on the boards with a 46-36 advantage. Potsdam did struggle from behind the arc as well, and finished the evening 2-15 (13%) from three.
"We need to get more consistent shooting the ball," said Head Coach Sherry Dobbs. "We need to execute a little bit better and shoot the ball how we are capable of shooting. I was pleased with our effort and rebounding and we played well in the half court while controlling dribble penetration."
For the game, Duquette finished with a game-high 15 points and Efrese added 14. Alex Meyer paced the Pioneers with a 10 point, 14 rebound effort and Matt Baldwin contributed 12 points and five assists.
The Bears look to carry the momentum of a tough road win when the head to Williamstown, Mass. to compete in the Williams Invitational. The Bears will take on Salem State on Friday night at 6 p.m. and then Southern Vermont on Saturday at 1 p.m.