The men’s basketball team collected three wins over intercession, including two State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) wins and the team’s first back-to-back wins in three years, bringing their overall record to 6-13. Five of these six wins were earned right at home in the Hawk Center.
The Hawks are now facing a six-game stretch on the road to close out their regular season with only conference games remaining. Head coach Keith Kenney said the team needs to learn to win on the road.
“We have to learn how to execute in hostile environments so we will practice execution,” he said. “We have to bring the same energy and concentration on the road we have at home.”
The team’s first win over the break came in the Louis Fleming Basinger Memorial Tournament at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania just after Christmas. After losing 89-68 to host No. 9 Lycoming on Friday, Dec. 29, the Hawks defeated King’s College in the consolation game by a score of 100-89.
Fourth-year guard Dylan Balducci scored 24 points off the bench and tossed in six assists, a block and a steal. The Hawks had five additional players scoring in the double digits, propelling them to their season-high 100 points. This was also the first win on the road for the Hawks, shooting 59.3 percent from the field and 73.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Other notable performances came from second-year guard Tristan Wissemann, netting 16 points while contributing two assists and a steal, and third-year point guard Cory Garcia who tossed in 14 points, five assists and one steal.
On Friday, Jan. 5, after an early second half 13 point run by SUNY Oswego, the Hawks fell at home by a final score of 84-69. The following day they also dropped a 88-71 decision to SUNY Cortland. Unfortunately the Hawks did not fare well on the road the following two games with conference losses to Oneonta and Oswego the next week.
The Hawks were able to rally for their return to their own court collecting their two back-to-back wins against Buffalo State and Fredonia, snapping their four-game losing streak. On Friday, Jan. 19 the Hawks held Buffalo to a season-low 53 points with a final score of 70-53.
“We have definitely been coming out to better starts in conference play. In the beginning of the season, we would sometimes come out and look sluggish, but not anymore,” Wisseman said. “We have to amp up the defensive intensity to try to get into the SUNYAC tournament. With the rest of our games on the road, we will have to rely on defense more than our offense.”
Fourth-year forward Brandon Guest had a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds. He also tossed in four assists, a block and a steal. Second-year forward Matt English led scoring with 18 points along with a block and a steal. Balducci also contributed 14 points, two assists, a block and a steal.
“Winning back-to-back games was a huge step forward for our team,” Balducci said. “We know we can compete with any team in the conference, and it felt great for us to finally get it done for an entire weekend.”
On Saturday, Jan. 20, the Hawks defeated the Blue Devils 72-62 after clawing back from a 12 point deficit at the half. They were able to secure the victory in the second half by causing 10 turnovers and scoring 46 points.
Guest led the charge with a total of 18 points, one assist, one block and a steal. Additionally, third-year guard Nick Paquette netted five points, while third-year guard Paddy Parr chipped in two assists.
The Hawks closed out their final weekend in the Hawk Center for 2018 with a tough pair of conference losses to SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Potsdam, including a heartbreaking 75-73 loss to the Bears on Senior Day.
On Friday, Jan. 26, against the top team in the conference, the Hawks shot 41.7 percent from the floor and landed two three-pointers in the second half. Meanwhile, the Cardinals had two players in double figures.
Significant performances came from Balducci with 15 points and two assists, Parr with four points and five assists, Wissemann with 18 and Guest and first-year guard Jake Passaretti with six points each.
Fourth-years Guest, Balducci, James Saunders and Kevin Coyle were honored before the game on Saturday in their Senior Day ceremony. The game concluded when a buzzer-beater attempt by Garcia hit the back of the rim to close out the emotional loss. Wisseman, Balducci and Paquette led scoring in the contest against Potsdam with 18, 15 and 12 points, respectively.
The Hawks will begin their six-game tour on the road against Buffalo State and Fredonia on Friday, Feb. 2 and Saturday, Feb. 3. Their current record in the SUNYAC stands at 3-9.
“Ending the season on a six-game road stretch will be a true test of what kind of team we are; playing on the road in the SUNYAC is not easy, and we must continue to bring energy and effort away from home so that we can end our season on a high note,” Balducci said. “Although securing a playoff berth may be difficult with our current record, we must continue to focus on the opponent in front of us and not look beyond them.”