Fueled by big plays and tremendous energy, the Hawks split their first conference weekend 1-1 and picked up their first State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) win since the end of their 2015-16 campaign.
On Friday, Dec. 1, third-year guard Cory Garcia’s defense helped hold Brockport’s fourth-year guard and leading scorer Hamed Shamseldin to eight points. Additionally, 11 players scored for the Hawks, but it was not enough to secure victory as the Hawks fell to the Golden Eagles 79-71.
“I thought Brockport, especially the second half we put together a really good effort,” said head coach Keith Kenney. “We just didn’t make shots that game.”
Notable performances also came from fourth-year guard Dylan Balducci who finished with 14 points, fourth-year forward Kevin Coyle who netted 13 points and registered five rebounds and fourth-year forward Brandon Guest who tossed in nine points, recorded eight rebounds and two steals.
“Our team’s overall connection is the biggest key to our season,” Guest said. “If we continue to support, encourage and fight for one another, we will be tough to stop.”
The Hawks were however able to rebound the next day to defeat SUNY Geneseo with a final score of 73-60.
The Knights got off to an early lead after tossing in a few threes, but the Hawks hung around until Garcia hit a shot from the perimeter to tie the game at 13 about six minutes in. Shortly after Balducci hit a three giving New Paltz its first lead of the day. Garcia finished the game with a stuffed stat sheet including 12 points, two rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal.
“Securing the first SUNYAC win of the year was huge for us after not winning a game in conference last year,” he said. “We are starting to all believe in ourselves and each other and that we can do well in conference play this year.”
Geneseo regained the lead in the opening minutes of the second half, but Guest answered to put the score at 35-34 and the Hawks were able to maintain the lead for the remainder of the contest.
The Knights got within six points of the Hawks several times and a mini seven point run brought them within four. But after back-to-back threes by third-year guard Nick Paquette and Balducci, the Hawks were ahead by 10 with about seven minutes left to play. Balducci tossed in a total of 13 points on the day and pulled down four rebounds for the Hawks.
In the last four minutes, Guest grabbed four rebounds, netted four points and smacked down a highlight block in transition to seal the Hawk victory. He would finish the day with 14 points (all of which fell in the second half), 16 rebounds, two blocks and two steal.
“I was really happy with Brandon Guest’s effort Saturday,” Kenney said. “He really attacked the rebounding and attacked the rim; he brings an element of athleticism and force that we didn’t have last year.”
Coyle had another good day with 16 points and two rebounds against the Knights. He said it felt good to capture a conference win.
“I think everyone had a huge part in the win this weekend,” he said. “Coach told us it starts on the defensive end and I think we did a great job of making them feel uncomfortable.”
The Hawks will look to rebound from a 89-73 loss at Cortland this Saturday at home against the Oneonta Red Dragons at 3 p.m. in the Hawk Center.
“What we talked about after the game and what I’ve been talking to them about for weeks is just trying to sustain multiple games in a row of energy and effort,” Kenney said. “That’s all I at this point care about because usually good things happen.”