GENESEO, N.Y. - SUNY Geneseo seniors John Decker and Justin Ringen combined for 42 points on the day, but the Knights could not overcome the Plattsburgh Cardinals falling 76-72 in a SUNYAC contest Saturday.
Decker led the Knights with 23 points while Ringen netted 19 points off the bench. Sophomore forward Jack Manke scored six points and grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds and three blocks. Sophomore guard CJ Burke netted nine points while junior guard Kevin Crockett scored seven.
The Knights started the game on a cold stretch, shooting just 3-for-16 to open the contest. The team trailed 23-10 at the 10:15 mark but a change on defensive end seemed to spark the Knights as they began to warm up from the floor. Head Coach Steve Minton switched from a man-to-man defense to an active 2-3 zone, stifling the Cardinals' offense and prompting a momentum shift in the Knights' favor.
The home team went on a 13-2 run, with Decker, Ringen and Crockett each drilling a triple, cutting the Plattsburgh lead to 25-23 with 5:00 left in the first half. The Knights continued to confuse the Cardinals, switching between their 2-3 zone and a 1-3-1 trapping zone to cause seven Plattsburgh turnovers during the final nine minutes of the half. A Manke layup brought the Knights to within a point with 1:37 to go, and a pair of foul shots from Burke gave the home team a 31-30 lead with 21 seconds. The Knights carried their narrow advantage into the halftime break.
Geneseo opened the second half on a 9-2 run and led by as many as eight points in the second half, taking a 40-32 lead with 17:19 to go on a Decker three. The Cardinals called a timeout and regrouped, going on a 13-0 run over the next 3:45 to take a 45-40 lead. Five straight points from Plattsburgh junior guard Eli Bryant gave Plattsburgh their largest lead of the game, a 54-42 advantage, with 10:10 remaining. Back-to-back threes from Ringen and Burke cut the deficit in half, but a thunderous put-back dunk by Cardinals' junior swingman Eric Mack swung momentum back to the visitors, making it 56-48 with 8:43 left.
The Cardinals extended their lead back to double-digits in the final minutes, but the home team continued to grind away at the deficit. A contested three from Decker with 23 seconds remaining brought the Knights to within four, making it 74-70, but that was as close as the squad would manage. The Cardinals went 5-for-8 from the foul line in the final minute to hold off the home team for the victory.
Geneseo moves to 11-6 on the season with a 6-4 mark in the SUNYAC standings and will play its fourth and final game of its current homestand on Tuesday, hosting Buffalo State in another SUNYAC bout.