Saints men and women take down Clinton

North Country Community College sophomore Jasmine Cruse scores an easy two points during the first half of Thursday’s home win over Clinton Community College. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

SARANAC LAKE — The North Country Community College men’s and women’s basketball teams each earned a win Thursday night at home against Clinton Community College. The women downed the Cougars 79-25 and men secured a 61-60 victory.

The Saints women jumped out to an early lead and never looked back in the first game of the night. NCCC freshman Kayla Carder rounded out the scoring in the first quarter when she went to the line with less than five seconds left to put the Saints up 19-4 at the end of the first quarter.

NCCC’s Ty Taylor kicked off scoring in the second period with a 3-pointer from the right side, and then Bailee Gauthier stole the inbounds pass and was fouled on her way to the hoop. After sinking both of her free throws, the home team was up 24-4 less than a minute into the second period.

Clinton only has seven women on the team, and was left with just one substitute for part of the second quarter when Avery Lambert left due to injury. Lambert would return a few minutes later, but NCCC carried a 46-12 advantage into the half.

North Country’s Jasmine Cruse started the second half scoring by getting fouled on her way to the basket, and she sank the foul shot for a 3-point play. The Saints’ combination of Taylor, Hayley Lewis and Gauthier moved the ball around the perimeter virtually unchallenged, which created a lot of open space for the Saints to exploit. NCCC held a 63-16 lead going into the fourth quarter.

North Country Community College freshman Paul Aversa attacks the Clinton defense during Thursday night's game in Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

North Country continued to dominate the rest of the contest, even with much of the squad coming off the bench.

Taylor said she was happy with the way her team played, but that they need to keep the intensity up throughout their games.

“I think we played to our potential,” the sophomore from Virginia said. “We could have played a little harder. Coming back from Thanksgiving break we were a little tired, (so) we could have picked it up a little.

“We need to talk on defense a lot more (and) keep our intensity up.”

Cruse led the Saints’ effort with a game-high 18 points, while Taylor followed close behind with 14 as every woman on NCCC’s roster scored at least a point in the win. Cailene Allen led the way for the Cougars with seven and Juliana Gardner contributed six.

Saints freshman Mathew Acosta puts the ball up for two of his 16 points in a home win Thursday night over Clinton Community College. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

CCC coach Donna Dixon said after the game that her girls played hard, but having just seven players hurts against a team with a deep bench. The Saints have a baker’s dozen on the roster.

“We played hard, it’s just a tough matchup,” Dixon said. “They’re (NCCC) quick and athletic and they press, press, press. We can’t practice that intensity.

“They work hard (but) the depth hurts us a little bit, especially against a team that can run. But we’re young and we’ll see what happens.”

Jerrad Dumont, NCCC’s coach, said he expects big things from his team this season.

“We started out well. We shared the ball well, which is what we do,” he said. “I was pretty happy. And we got some kids in tonight who don’t normally see a lot of time. Someone like Rebecca Middleton scored two points tonight, and those were her first two college points, which is a good situation.

NCCC guard Ty Taylor brings the ball up the court Thursday in Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

“I think we’re pretty talented. My hope for the season is to see us in the regional championship game. I think we’ve got the talent and the size, and that’s a reasonable expectation.”

The North Country women will bring a 5-1 overall record into Saturday’s game on the road against Onondaga.

MEN

In the second game of the night, the Saints men built an early lead but felt the Cougars about to pounce as the game neared the end.

“We played OK (but) showed some rust coming off Thanksgiving break,” NCCC men’s coach Daryl Crist said. “I thought our defense was outstanding and I thought that we hung in there as both teams kind of battled.”

While the Saints carried a lead through the second half, Clinton reduced that lead to just a few points on a couple of occasions. But NCCC held on for the win.

Mathew Acosta put a team-high 16 points on the board and freshman Paul Aversa, from Syracuse, contributed 14 for the Saints.

The North Country men are 4-3 overall.

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