POTSDAM, N.Y. – The SUNY Potsdam men's basketball team (0-1) opened their season at the North Country Invitational hosted by Clarkson University Friday evening. The Bears fell to Southern New York opponent Ithaca College (1-0) 76-69. Senior guard Mark Lake Jr. led the Bears on the offensive end with 21 points.
The Bears took the early advantage over the Bombers behind Lake. The senior guard opened up the closely contested game with a big three at the 16:05 mark. Shortly after, senior forward Curtis Pierce forced a steal and dished the ball to Lake to give Potsdam a 14-8 lead. The Bears continued the run as junior forward Rob Duquette added a layup with 10 minutes remaining to extend the Potsdam advantage to 20-10. Ithaca climbed back into the game to close the gap to four going into halftime, 33-29.
Potsdam came out strong in the final half as junior forward Colin Peterson connected from beyond the arch to extend the lead to six points. However, the Bombers were able recover and lock down the Bears offense for the rest of the second half. Turnovers and tough defense disrupted Potsdam as Ithaca pieced together an 8-0 run with 11:38 remaining. The Bombers held off the Bears charge in the final minutes of the game to seal the 76-69 victory.
Travis Warech led the Bombers with a double-double performance, totaling 21 points and 10 rebounds. Frank Mitchell and Andrei Oztemel added 16 and 13 points, respectively. Ithaca capitalized on 22 of 34 free throw opportunities while shooting 49% on the floor.
Potsdam's Pierce tallied 15 points and eight rebounds. Peterson contributed 11 points and Duquette caped off the top scorers for the Bears with 10 points. The Bears struggled at the line, shooting 43%.
The Bears return to the court tomorrow for their final game of the North Country Invite versus Berkeley College. Tip off set for 1 p.m.