Oswego State, despite a rough start, cruised to its second straight victory on Friday night against SUNY Potsdam, 83-55. The win was a contest that saw the Lakers go on a 24-3 run to end the first half to gain control and they never looked back in.
Walter Sampson had a big night as he scored 21 points. He was one of three Lakers in double figures, along with Brian Sortino and Rashawn Powell. This is the second time the trio all scored in double figures against the Bears. They did the same on the road earlier in the season in January.
Oswego State started the game very poorly and fell behind 19-10 early on. After that, the defense that helped it stay in the game by shutting down the Bears offense, holding them to three points for the remainder of the first half.
The defense held the Bears to 20-for-63 shooting from the floor for a 31.7 percent clip for the game. They also forced 13 turnovers.
“They challenged each other, they were playing the right away,” said Jason Leone, Oswego State head coach. “Once we got engaged defensively and strung together stops it led to transition opportunities.”
Leone knew that the game of the weekend would be the match-up against Plattsburgh on Saturday, but he made sure to get his team focused for the match-up on Friday.
“I told the guys we’re competing with human nature more than anything else, but they did a nice job buckling down after they fell behind,” Leone said.
The Lakers began the second half strong. Getting points off baskets from Powell, Sampson and a 3-point shot from Dustin Pond. Pond hit a second 3-pointer to put the Lakers up 44-26 with 16:55 left in the contest. SUNY Potsdam was able to cut the lead to 13 after making a few shots. Leone took a timeout as he was not happy. After the timeout, the Lakers regained their composure and went on a 7-0 run to push their lead up to 20 points with 11 minutes left in the game.
“Every game is big, we try to take every game one at a time,” said Powell, who scored 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting from the field, as well as nine rebounds.
“It’s a huge win, definitely good to leave off on a win before playing a big game,” Sampson said. “We just went back to our basics, we just fell back on our defense that’s what pushes us.”
The Lakers continued to cruise from that point forward. An Alex Rawa 3-pointer put the Lakers up 59-34. They continued to pressure the Bears offense that was really struggling for points, with nine minutes left the Lakers lead 61-37. They not only continued to put the pressure on defense, but on offense as well. The Lakers continued to drive the ball up court looking to score after any defensive rebound they got.
After a struggling start, the game became what one would expect, a contest that the Lakers would thoroughly control on both sides of the court. SUNY Potsdam got within 19 after a few shots, including a 3-pointer. On the following possession, however, the Lakers grabbed three offensive rebounds and were able to wind the clock down to their liking. The score held at 65-46 with 5:34 remaining.
The Lakers started off the game poorly, falling behind 12-6 to the Bears with 14:40 left in the first half. The Lakers did not start off the game as sharp as they would have liked as they gave up four offensive rebounds early on. Sortino closed the gap to two points with two straight baskets, bringing the Lakers closer at 12-10. The Lakers started the game poor offensively as well, going 4-for-11 from the field with only 10 points with 11:30 left in the first half.
“I’m not exactly sure why we started off slow, but we got it together and we figured it out in the end,” Powell said.
“We just went back to our basics, we really fell back on our defense, that what pushes us,” Sampson said.
The Bears controlled the game early on, as the Lakers struggled when it came to creating chances and failing to put away easy looks at the rim. The Lakers trailed 19-10 with nine minutes left in the half. Only three players for the Lakers had scored, Sortino, Covley and Sampson. The Lakers began to make a run to get back in it, however. Sortino was fouled and hit the basket to get the run started. Powell and Sampson made shots on consecutive possessions and the Lakers found themselves trailing by only two after a rough start.
The contest was a low scoring affair early on. Despite offensive struggles, both team’s defenses played a big part in the game shaping up the way it did. The Lakers were able to get back in it, however, tying the game at 21 on a Powell tip-in and taking the lead on a Sampson fast break layup. The Lakers went on a 24-2 run against the Bears that put helped themselves in a great position before the half. The run was highlighted by Sortino, who has been a leader on offense for the Lakers all season. Sortino finished the half with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor, as well as 4-of-5 from the free throw line.
After falling behind 19-10 early on, the Lakers ended the half only giving up three points in the final 9:55. Overall, the Lakers held the Bears to 32.1 percent shooting from the floor in the half, 9-of-28. The Lakers also forced 10 turnovers in the first half, right after forcing 12 turnovers in their last game against New Paltz.
Despite the slow start, the Lakers shot 29-for-64 from the field for the game for a 45.3 percent clip.
The Lakers will play in what could be their most important game of the season so far as they take on the SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinals in a game that has the top spot in the SUNYAC conference at stake.
The game is Saturday at 2 p.m.