The women’s basketball team is off to a 14-7 start and have captured wins in their last four games.
Two of those came this past weekend when they defeated State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) rivals Buffalo State and SUNY Fredonia on Feb. 2 and Feb. 3, respectively.
“We didn’t defend very well in the first half against Buffalo State, but we came out with a much more inspired second half and were able to open up a lead quickly in the third quarter with some good shooting combined with the better defense,” Hawks head coach Jamie Seward said. “The next day against Fredonia, we defended pretty well, but they really took it to us on the glass. However, we shot the ball really well from behind the arc, and that tends to cover up a lot of mistakes.”
Against Buffalo State, the teams engaged in a seesaw affair through the first period, exchanging leads but ending the quarter at a 17-17 tie.
The team broke out in the second, however, as third-year guard Lindsay Bettke sunk a 3-pointer to open up the scoring.
Buffalo State answered back with a 3-pointer of their own, but the Hawks went back on top and kept their lead the remainder of the half.
Second-year guard Marion Dietz notched two free throws to give New Paltz a 32-30 lead going into the half.
The Bengals went tit-for-tat with New Paltz to open up the third quarter, but the Hawks broke out after third-year guard Rachel Simon sunk two layups to give the team a then 43-34 advantage.
After contributions from Bettke, Dietz and third-year guard Taylor Howell, Simon hit another two layups to give New Paltz a 15-point lead to end the quarter.
The team then coasted through the final frame, holding as high of a lead as 26 points at one point. They went on to secure the victory by a final score of 79-58.
“We have had strong play from our guards Rachel Simon, Taylor Howell and Marion Dietz, and the freshmen have started to play with more confidence as their minutes have increased due to all of the injuries,” Seward said. “[The freshmen] are a very talented group, and now that they been obtaining some valuable experience, we hope they will continue to play better and better down the stretch. We have also defended better, with the notable exception of the first half against Buffalo and that can carry you a long way.”
The next day against Fredonia, the game started similar to the match from the previous day in that they swapped leads early on. However, after Rachel Simon hit a pair of 3’s, it gave the Hawks a 16-12 lead with just over two minutes left in the quarter.
Fredonia answered back to tie the game up, but Bettke hit a late 3-pointer of her own to give New Paltz a 19-16 lead to end the quarter.
The team would succeed in not relinquishing their lead in the second, going up by as much as 10 points when Dietz hit one from downtown at just over two minutes to make it a 32-22 lead.
In the third, the Hawks kept their lead, but Fredonia got within six points at 1:39. However, New Paltz answered back to end the quarter with an 11-point advantage off a good jumper from Dietz.
New Paltz concluded the game by dominating Fredonia in the fourth quarter, sealing a 61-43 victory.
It’s just a couple weeks until the SUNYAC Tournament and the Hawks are looking to repeat the success they had from last year and go even further.
“I know it’s a cliche, but we are just trying to get a little bit better each day,” Seward said. “They are such an easy team to coach in that they really care, they want to get better, and they take responsibility for the way they play and don’t make excuses when things don’t go well. That certainly makes it a lot easier for me as their coach, and I really appreciate it.”
New Paltz has two road matchups this weekend against SUNY Geneseo and The College at Brockport on Feb. 9 and Feb. 10, respectively.
“It’s a tough weekend upcoming, and I am really excited to see where we stack up with two of the best teams in the SUNYAC,” Seward said. “This weekend will be a good barometer in regard to where we are and what we need to do as we prepare for the postseason.”
The Hawks are now 10-4 in conference matchups this season.