PAUL SMITHS - Four players scored in double figures to help North Country Community College claim a 70-61 victory over Paul Smith's College in men's basketball Monday on the Bobcats' court.
The Saints improved to 5-0 with the win, and used a busy night at the foul line to help pull away from the pesky Bobcats, who dropped to 2-3 overall. NCCC outscored Paul Smith's 20-4 at the stripe to win the non-league contest, which pitted a head coach against a former player leading their school's programs.
"Fouls galore," said Paul Smith's head coach Joe Akey describing his team's troubles. "We had guys in foul trouble across the board."
Paul Smith’s junior Alex Medina drives through North Country defenders Michael Boyer (left) and Ian Henderson to score a second-half layup during Monday’s game.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
The Saints made 20 of their 29 attempts at the foul line, while the Bobcats converted on just four of their 10 trips.
Brody Douglass and Jared Heden each scored 16 points to pace the Saints, while Steven Carder and Steve Poulter tossed in 15 and 10 points, respectively, for the winners. Michael Boyea added eight in the victory.
"You always want to win, but in a way this game was bittersweet because I was coaching against a former player," North Country coach Chad LaDue said. "Joe played for me and helped us win a title in the NIC (the old Northern Independents Conference). He's doing a great job at Paul Smith's."
With just four players on the bench and not much height, Paul Smith's was relying on the long ball as a big part of its game. In fact, the 'Cats scored more points from long range than they did in close, as four players combined to drain 11 shots from beyond the three-point line.
Shiva Senthil had the hot hand for Paul Smith's, knocking down seven 3-pointers, including four in the opening half, to finish with a game-high 22 points. Devon Carr added 15 for Paul Smith's and Alex Medina finished with 10.
The first half was a tight back-and-forth battle that saw both teams claim and lose leads. The Bobcats went into halftime on top 31-30 thanks to a half-court shot that Carr drained at the buzzer.
North Country regained the lead with 4:30 gone in the second half when Heden scored from close range, putting his team on top 38-37. Heden's basket came during an eight-point Saints' run that pushed their edge to 44-37.
The Bobcats stayed close during the middle stages of the half, but NCCC eventually stretched the advantage to 14 points when Ian Henderson and Poulter hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it a 56-42 score with just under eight minutes left in the game.
A late seven-point run helped the Bobcats cut their deficit to 61-56 with 3:15 left on the clock, but the visitors were able to hold on down the stretch.
"A win's a win, and we'll take it," LaDue said. "We were off a little bit tonight, but we still came through. When you don't have your best stuff and still find ways to win, that's something that good teams do. Hopefully, we can keep it going."
The game was the fourth in six days for NCCC, which will be on the road this weekend for two big NJCAA Region III contests. On Saturday, the Saints will face nationally-ranked Herkimer and then play Mohawk Valley on Sunday.
The Bobcats, who are 2-1 in the Yankee Small College Conference, also return to league play this weekend. playing three games in as many days. Their busy weekend starts Friday at the University of Southern Maine.
"We have no height, no depth, that's it," Akey said. "Our goal against North Country was just to play a full 40 minutes. We had about a five-minute lapse in the first half and another in the second, and that was the difference.
"I give our kids a lot of credit," Akey added. "When we were down by 14 in the second half, we were right back at it with a seven-point run. Our kids never quit and they always play hard."
North Country 70, Paul Smith's 61
North Country (70)
Douglass 5-6-16, Heden 6-3-13, Poulter 3-2-10, Boyea 1-6-8, Henderson 1-0-3, Mills 1-0-2, Carder 6-3-15. Totals: 22-20-70.
Paul Smith's (61)
Hepgood 0-0-0, Wightman 1-0-3, McCuin 2-0-4, Klock 0-0-0, O'Dell 0-2-2, Cerr 9-0-20, Medina 4-1-10, Senthil 7-1-22. Totals: 23-4-61.
Three-point goals: NCCC (3), Heden, Poulter 2. PSC (11), Senthil 7, Medina, Carr 2, Wightman.
Halftime: PSC 31, NCCC 30.