The Oswego State men’s Basketball team kept their playoff hopes alive with a crucial 73-59 win against SUNY Potsdam on Feb. 13 in the team’s final home game of the season.
The team’s two seniors, Stanley Francois and Luke Schrader, were honored before the game for their efforts on and off the court during their time at Oswego State.
Once the game got under way, the Lakers controlled the flow of the game from the opening tip. Oswego State started out hot, opening up a 16-5 lead in the first eight minutes.
The Lakers’ high scorer was Stanley Francois, who scored 16 points in the contest, with 12 of those points coming in the first half. Francois sunk six of his first seven shots, which set the tone for the Lakers’ scoring attack. He proved to be too quick for the Bears’ defense in the low post throughout the game, getting to the rim early and often. Potsdam is one of the smaller teams in the SUNYAC Conference, and Oswego State used their size to their advantage.
Head coach Adam Stockwell said he thought this would be a good matchup for his team going into the game, especially Francois. Coach Stockwell said Francois strength was a huge advantage for him. Stockwell also said he thought being honored before the game may have pumped Francois up, but according to Francois, he just wanted to win.
"I was pumped," Francois said. "We lost [Friday] and I wanted to get the bad taste out of my mouth."
The Lakers had four players in double-digits including Francois with 16. Sophomores Conor Monaghan and Chad Burridge added 14 a piece and sophomore Ryan Sheridan contributed 12 points of his own, going five-for-six from the free-throw line. Burridge shot five-for-ten from the field and converted four of his six free throw attempts in 32 minutes of play.
Free-throws played a big part in the outcome of the game as both teams shot well from the free-throw line. But the Lakers had more uncontested opportunities and made sure to capitalize, going 20-for-25 collectively. Sheridan made all of his free throws in the final two minutes of the game, widening the gap between the two teams.
Freshman point guard Sean Michele had 10 assists, giving his teammates plenty of opportunities to score. He committed only one turnover, while forcing four steals, which fueled Oswego State’s transition game. Michele played a vital role in beating the press that Potsdam used throughout the game, and was able to get the ball to his teammates in scoring areas.
"He did a phenomenal job finding guys," Stockwell said of Michele. "Easier shots make for easier points."
Stockwell expressed his desire to get his team’s key players touches in the post because of their size advantage. The Lakers had a lot of opportunities to get the ball down low, but according to Stockwell, his team did not always look to get the ball closer to the rim and settled to shoot from the perimeter. Stockwell said he thought the guys on his team may have been too eager at times, because he knows they want to make plays. He said he thought they were feeling confident, which according to him is "not a bad thing."
With just over three minutes to play in the first half the Bears cut the Laker lead to four points. The Lakers responded quickly with an 8-2 run to close out the first half, building their lead to 10 points. Junior Jose Uribe landed a big 3-pointer in that stretch, which gave the Lakers a solid lead at halftime. Stockwell said his team’s performance at the end of the first half was "a huge confidence boost" going into the half.
Potsdam had the high scorer for the game in freshman Curtis Pierce, who had a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. But the fine team effort by Oswego State proved to be too much.
Uribe added nine points, connecting on three-of-four shots from three-point range, while co-captain Burridge was a force in the paint, blocking five shots.
The Lakers also held off a late charge by the Bears in the second half. Senior Luke Schrader dribbled the ball up the court one last time at home in a Laker uniform to run out the final seconds on the clock.
"He’s a great guy; never complains. He does what it takes for the team to win," Francois said of Schrader.
Both Schrader and Francois will be missed next year, but the Lakers still have their eyes on the playoffs this season. Oswego State finishes up the regular season on the road with games against SUNY Fredonia and Buffalo State Feb. 19 and 20, respectively.