The Potsdam Bears Men’s Basketball team (18-5,13-3) took down the Oswego State Lakers (16-6, 10-5) on Saturday night, with a score of 76-62, led by star forward Isaiah Browns career high 42 points and 15 rebounds. Coming off a conference loss to Cortland, the Bears were motivated to bounce back and did in a big way.
The Lakers went up early, jumping to a 9-2 lead which caused Potsdam to call a timeout, one that would prove beneficial as they calmly stormed back to tie it at 9 before a lengthy back and forth first half ended with a step back three pointer from Isaiah Brown to tie it at 33.
The Bears perimeter defense and transition scoring were a testament to their athleticism, something they are known for, as their smothering defense led them to a solid 20 points off of turnovers, and was the main reason they went on a massive 18-4 run in the middle of the second half.
Inefficiency was the story for the Lakers however, as they shot at less than 35% from the field for the game and an even more abysmal 22% from three point land.
“ A lot of our shots were in and out, you can’t really control that but we weren’t playing defense as completely as we were in the first half,” said senior guard Brandon Gartland, who finished with 18 points and 8 rebounds to lead the Lakers in both categories.
Another point of focus coming into the game was the Lakers leading scorer, freshman phenom Jeremiah Sparks. After a string of low scoring games against conference opponents Sparks was looking to have a bounce back game to get back on track. That bounce back never came however, as early foul trouble and a bevy of turnovers led him to a 2-9 shooting night, to finish with a lackluster 7 points.
Sparks noted that the foul trouble did not only have an impact on his aggressiveness on the offensive end of the floor, but the defensive as well.
“Defensively also…basketball’s a physical game and sometimes [the referees] see something you don’t see, and a little shove might be a big foul to them, so it’s hard to play defense without using your hands or your body to protect you,” said Sparks.
Throughout the game, it seemed as though Potsdam made it a point of emphasis to slow down Sparks as well, as they employed a full court press any time he brought the ball up and trapped him off of every screen he attempted to wiggle around.
Despite being down by as many as 19 in the second half, the Lakers managed to close the gap after two straight three pointers by senior forward Joe Sullivan and Brandon Gartland got them to within single digits with less than five minutes to play, but a big three pointer from Isaiah Brown was enough to squash out any hopes of a comeback for the Lakers.
Both teams are looking to close out their seasons strong as Oswego State is set to take on SUNY Oneonta on Feb. 18, and Potsdam looks to continue their strong conference play, also against Oneonta on Feb, 21.