As the final horn sounded in Max Ziel gym Friday night, the Oswego State men’s basketball team exchanged hi-fives and hugs to the cheers of their home crowd.
With a 75-69 win over their rival from the north country, Plattsburgh, the Lakers clinched a playoff spot in the SUNYAC tournament.
Oswego improves to (16-5) with the win over the Cardinals. The Lakers were led by the scoring efforts of senior Brandan Gartland who netted 22, 15 of those points came from beyond the arc in the first half.
“Brandan has been a rock, he’s been a great player for us for four years. He embodies everything I want our program to stand for, he knows all five positions on the floor. He’s a quiet assassin if you will. His highs are never too high and his lows are never too low. He’s a guy you can count on every single night,” said Laker Head Coach Jason Leone.
Gartland was assisted by University of Buffalo transfer Colby Moultrie, who dropped in 14 points of his own off the bench.
“It’s always good to have another good shooter. Last year with Quinn Carey, we’d just stand on the outside and no one could really help off us, so really kinda spreads the floor out for everyone,” said Gartland.
The Lakers scoring attack was not without senior forward Joe Sullivan. Sullivan played a physical game scoring 21 points and grabbing 8 rebounds, taking on a rotation of 6 foot 10 Cameron Ness and 6 foot 4 Erik Salo for the Cardinals.
“I had a lot of practice last year with Tyler Pierre and now the weight is now on my shoulders with banging down low and grabbing boards, so I just try to do my best and work as hard as I can to keep those big guys out of there,” said Sullivan.
Plattsburgh gave the Lakers a tough contest overall turning in a great performance from junior guard Matt Berhard off the bench
Bernhard stormed out of the gates early scoring 12 of his 17 total points in the first half. Bernhard went 3 for 3 from beyond the arc in the first half, holding a mini-three point contest with the Laker’s Brandan Gartland.
Bernhard’s efforts were combined with those of Travis Cox who had 16 points on the night. Cox, who was a top scorer against Oswego in their first meeting of the year, surged ahead in the second half with 9 points and all 6 of his rebounds.
Despite pulling off the 6 point win, the Lakers ran into some struggles throughout the game. Oswego went (8-13) from the free throw line in the first half and went cold from deep in the second half with a 21.4% 3PT performance.
The Lakers will look to improve upon some aspects of this game which may have kept it close.
Poor transition defense and the teams’ ability to guard the dribble lacking, are some areas Laker Coach Jason Leone believed kept the Cardinals in the game and are areas he hopes to improve.
The Cardinals and Lakers traded the lead 12 times, with a late layup from Joe Sullivan putting the Lakers up 6 and eventually closing out the game.
Oswego will take on the second ranked team in the SUNYAC on Saturday. The Potsdam Bears hold a (12-3) conference record and are coming off a 93-88 loss to Cortland.
Lakers Win and Clinch SUNYAC Tourney Spot