Men's hoops falls in SUNYAC semis

A terrific season is over for the men's basketball team.

Last Friday, the Knights fell to the number-one seeded SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinals by a score of 65-57 in the SUNYAC Tournament semifinals.

It was a back-and-forth game that featured offensive spurts by both squads. The Knights, coming off a six-hour bus ride to the gym, quickly fell behind 20-14 before bouncing back with a 15-0 run to lead 29-20. They took a 33-29 ­first-half lead into the locker room on the strength of 60 percent shooting from the floor.

Geneseo stayed hot after intermission, opening the second stanza with a 10-3 run to claim an imposing 11-point lead against the 10th ranked team in the nation. Plattsburgh refused to go down easily, however, and countered with eight straight points of their own to pull within three.

With 10 minutes left in regulation, Geneseo clung to a seven-point lead, but by the seven-minute mark the Cardinals had stormed back to tie the game at 52 in the midst of a 21-5 run that eventually put the game out of reach for the Knights. With 41 seconds left, Plattsburgh had pulled ahead 63-54, effectively ending the game and the season for Geneseo.

While able to match the pace of the Cardinals, the Knights simply were outplayed beneath the basket and could not take care of the ball. Plattsburgh won the rebound advantage 41-32, including 19 offensive rebounds, while Geneseo had 20 turnovers.

Geneseo's defense also struggled all game to find a way to stop the conference player of the year, Plattsburgh guard Anthony Williams, who torched the Knights for 25 points.

Head coach Steve Minton singled out the size difference between the teams as well as turnovers as key factors in the loss.

"I thought we played well for 35 minutes but turnovers just killed us," he said. "Plattsburgh has a tendency to fall behind and then get back in it and that's just what they did again to us."

Junior big man Jeff Howe, who scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, led the way for the Knights. Howe later received a spot on the second team All-SUNYAC men's basketball team in recognition of his efforts this season. His classmate, Scott Morton, was awarded first-team honors for his outstanding campaign.

Three other starters scored in double-digits in the loss. Seniors Tarik Kitson and Joe Kling scored 13 points apiece and Morton added 12 points along with nine assists. Kitson also added nine rebounds in 39 minutes of play.

Geneseo ended the season 19-8 overall and 11-5 in conference play. u