Red Dragons spoil Pierce's big night

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POTSDAM, N.Y.- Curtis Pierce scored 16 points and pulled down 17 rebounds but the Bears came out on the short end of a 58-50 loss to Cortland. Junior Brian Manning (Elmira, N.Y./South Side) led the Red Dragons with a game-high 28 points and knocked down 11-of-15 field goal attempts.

The first half was evenly played with the Red Dragons going into the locker room hanging onto a narrow 29-28 lead. Each team held a six point lead at one point in the half, but couldn't hold it. Pierce led the first half charge with a solid 10 rebounds, five points, and three assist performance while freshman Zac Adams (Potsdam, N.Y./Potsdam) finished with eight points including a buzzer beater that cut the lead to one. Manning led the Cortland attack, accounting for 15 first half points on 6-of-9 shooting.

Potsdam went cold to start the half and the Red Dragons took advantage, using a 12-4 run thanks to nine early points by Manning. The spurt gave Cortland a 41-32 lead before sophomore Tony Efese (Spring Valley, N.Y./St. Joseph Regional) buried a three. Pierce answered a Cortland basket with a three-pointer of his own to cut the deficit to 43-38 at the 13:19 mark. The defensive intensity picked up on both ends of the floor with only 12 points being scored over the next eight minutes of the game. With the Bears trailing 53-46, Pierce hit a driving layup to cut into the lead with just under three minutes left. On the ensuing defensive possession, Potsdam forced a 35-second shot clock violation but was unable to convert on the offensive end. Cortland knocked down late free throws to come away with the hard fought victory.

For the game, Potsdam shot 35.6 percent from the field and held a 41-33 advantage in rebounds. Adams was the only other Bear to score in double-figures, chipping in 10 points and grabbing six rebounds.

Cortland finished with a 38.9 percent field goal percentage and shot on 23.1 percent from the three point line. Kevin McMahon scored nine points and had eight rebounds.

"I thought we played really hard and played well on the defensive end," said Potsdam Head Coach Sherry Dobbs. "We had some critical lapses in the second half which hurt us but I thought Curtis played really well and Zac Adams is really starting to come around for us."  

The Bears return to action tomorrow afternoon against Oswego. The ball tips at 4 p.m. in Maxcy Hall Welsh Gymnasium.