Potsdam, NY – John Coleman (Potsdam, NY) started his sophomore season right where he left off in his first year for the Clarkson University Men’s Basketball team, recording a double-double with 24 points and 12 rebounds to help lead the Golden Knights to a 84-74 win over Berkeley College (NY) in the opening round of the North Country Invitational Friday night at Alumni Gymnasium.
The Golden Knights will face Ithaca College at 3:00 pm in the championship game of the tournament. The Bombers defeated Potsdam 76-69 in the second game of the evening, and the Bears will face Berkeley in the consolation game, which is slated for a 1:00 pm start.
Clarkson struggled to get into a rhythm in the early going, scoring on its first shot of the game but then going scoreless for the next four minutes as Berkeley rattled off nine points. Back on track after a layup from Felix Abongo (Beacon, NY), the Golden Knights and Berkeley exchanged points throughout the remainder of the first half. Clarkson was able to extend its modest advantage on a last-second 3-pointer from Jerry Coleman (Potsdam, NY) on an inbounds play, burying the shot at the buzzer for a six-point lead at intermission.
Sophomore John Coleman scored a team-best 11 points to go along with five rebounds and two steals in the opening half while Abongo added 10 points, including a pair of 3-point field goals. For Berkeley, Jose Stable had a game-high 12 points, shooting 6-for-9 from the floor, while Kaseem Williams added 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting.
In the second half, the Golden Knights ran a hot streak from the perimeter to extend their lead to 18 points (58-40), but Berkeley found its own groove offensively and cut the deficit to two possessions. Clarkson was able to hold off the late charge by the Knights with a clutch 3-pointer from Jerry Coleman and hit free throws down the stretch to claim the win.
John Coleman shot 11-for-16 from the floor and also added four assists and three steals for the Golden Knights. Clarkson’s starters combined for 76 of the team’s 84 points, with Marques Charlton (Deer Park, NY) adding in 18 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Jerry Coleman and Abongo each contributed 15 points. For Berkeley, Jose Stable matched Coleman’s performance from the field by shooting 11-for-16 and had 22 points to go along with his eight rebounds. Kaseem Williams tossed in 18 points before fouling out late in the contest.
In the second game of the night, Ithaca had trouble from the perimeter in the first half, making only one of its 11 3-point field goal attempts, while Potsdam shot 50 percent from the outside to take a four-point advantage into the locker room. In the second half, the Bombers trailed by as many as six, but made a good run when down by five in the early going. Ithaca went on a 20-7 run in less than five minutes by attacking the rim for lay ups and converting free throw opportunities. Though Potsdam would get back to within a couple of possessions, the Bears’ foul trouble allowed Ithaca to get into the bonus early, providing the Bombers with 34 attempts from the free throw line and making 22 of those chances. Potsdam didn’t convert many of its chances, sinking only seven of its 16 free throws.
The Bombers’ Travis Warech finished with a double-double, scoring 21 points and pulling down his 10th rebound on the last shot of the game. Frank Mitchell had 16 points, shooting 8-for-10 from the floor and Andrei Oztemel added 13 points and eight rebounds. Sean Rossi scored eight points and had eight assists.
For Potsdam, Mark Lake was 8-for-9 from the floor for a team-best 21 points and Curtis Pearce added 15 points, eight rebounds, and five steals before fouling out of the game. Colin Peterson scored 11 points before likewise also committing five fouls, and Rob Duquette contributed 10 points and seven rebounds.