By Pete Holehan
SUNY Potsdam Assistant SID
Efficiency to open the game will have to be corrected for the SUNY Potsdam men's basketball team.
The Bears endured a slow start by going the opening 5:45 without a basket, falling behind 14-0, and eventually lost 98-91 on the road against Merchant Marine Academy in King's Point—a village on the North Shore of Long Island—on Wednesday night.
Shooting was not an issue for Potsdam, who shot a blistering 54 percent from the floor (27-of-50) including 10-of-16 from 3-point range.
The Bears scored a season-high 91 points, jolting past their previous high score of 74 points at Skidmore College back on November 26. Five players reached double digits in scoring with junior guard Rishawd Hendricks (Brooklyn, N.Y. / Mount Zion Christian Academy) leading the way with 18 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals.
Sophomore Joe Estramonte (Greenwich, N.Y. / Greenwich Central) shot 6-of-9 from the field—including 4-of-6 from downtown—to close with 16 points. Junior Tom Graf (Elbridge, N.Y. / Jordan-Elbridge) received a season-high 31 minutes of playing time to notch a season-best 14 points to record his first double digit scoring performance of the season. His previous high was five points in the Skidmore contest.
Junior Zac Adams (Potsdam, N.Y. / Potsdam) had 13 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
However, Potsdam had difficulty in taking care of the ball as it committed 31 turnovers that led to 37 USMMA points. The Mariners (5-4) were nearly just as hot shooting the ball as it connected on 51.6 percent of its shots from the floor.
Senior forward Nick Sergio (Patchogue, N.Y. / Patchogue-Medford) turned in a game-high 20 points with eight rebounds while freshman guard Mathew Miller (Augusta, Ga. / Augusta) scored 16 points.
Potsdam (1-7) trailed by as many as 20, but closed the gap with a furious rally down the stretch to make it interesting. The Bears went on a 15-3 run with lay ups by Graf, Estramonte, and Adams. Adams hit a pair of free throws, Conor Engle and Hendricks each made a free throw, Hendricks tipped in a shot and Darien Croft knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 95-91 with 19 seconds to play.
But USMMA made 3-of-4 from the charity stripe and Potsdam missed a pair of free throws and a 3-point attempt to seal the win for the Mariners.
Potsdam will be back in action on Tuesday, Jan. 7 when it returns to the home confines of Jerry Welsh Gymnasium to play Manhattanville College. Tip-off is 7 p.m.