Over the course of January, the women’s basketball team has built on to a 10-game winning streak, moving to 14-4 overall and 10-1 in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) after beating Oswego State Tuesday night, 79-45.
“We have been doing a better job of recognizing that what it comes down to is focus, communication and effort,” said fourth-year guard Rachel Simon. “We each recognized where we need to improve individually and as a team, and we’ve been striving to get better every single day whether that be a huge leap or just a small step.”
The Hawks started off the first day of the Moravian College Tournament with a 61-72 loss against Cabrini University on Dec. 30. Simon, fourth-year guard Lindsay Bettke and third-year guard Marion Dietz all scored 12 points. New Paltz then went on to play in the consolation game on Dec. 31, where they beat Delaware Valley University 67-59. Dietz scored 20 points for the Hawks, with Bettke and second-year guard and forward Nicole Ziogas coming behind with 15 and 12 points each, respectively.
On Jan. 3, New Paltz went up against Mount Saint Mary College at home and came out on top 69-45. The Hawks took advantage of early turnovers and the missing lead scorers from the Knights to gain a large cushion in the first half that carried them to victory. Dietz ended the game with a career-high 25 points shooting 9-15 from the field.
Five days later on Jan. 8, New Paltz traveled to Oswego State and won 72-51 after a turnover battle where the Hawks forced 29 turnovers. Simon, Dietz and Bettke played solid defense and amassed 13 of the teams 18 steals. The team never let up their double-digit lead and Bettke scored a team-high 20 points.
On a three-game win streak, New Paltz defeated Brockport at home on Jan. 11 60-47. The defense was strong again and led to more than 20 forced turnovers for the Hawks. Third-year guard Kei-Kei Glover scored a career-high 10 points and went 7-of-9 from the foul line to solidify the win.
Up against reigning conference champion SUNY Geneseo, the Hawks battled their way to victory Saturday Jan. 12 with a final score of 71-61. The game went back and forth, with the Knights in the lead for most of the first half, but huge efforts by Bettke and third-year forward Phileasha Teape gave New Paltz the push they needed to outscore Geneseo, marking their first major loss of the season. Bettke and third-year forward Paige Niemeyer led the team in points, totaling 21 and 16, respectively.
Coming off the win against Geneseo the Hawks took on Cortland on Jan. 15 at home, and secured the sixth-consecutive win by a score of 67-63. New Paltz had control for most of the game, and an early lead quickly turned into a double-digit cushion heading into halftime. Simon finished the game with 26 points, and Bettke was not far behind with 25.
On the road at Fredonia, the Hawks managed to gain their seventh win against the Blue Devils 82-60 on Jan. 18. A minute into the second quarter, Bettke scored the 1,000th point of her career, marking another feat in her already illustrious career.
The next day on Jan. 19, New Paltz travelled to Buffalo State where they defeated the Bengals 98-73. The Hawks outshot Buffalo 52.2 percent to 37.3 percent, with smart plays and aggressive shooting from both Simon and Bettke giving New Paltz as much as a 20 point lead in the third quarter. Simon exited the game with 30 points, and Bettke was not far behind at 23 points.
“As cliche as it is, we are just trying to get a little bit better today,” said head coach Jamie Seward. “We aren’t so worried about the big picture. We are much more concerned with making sure we are still getting better as we move toward the last 1/3 of the season.”
On Saturday the Hawks redeemed themselves against SUNY Oneonta, who they lost to previously in the year, with a 73-55 victory.
“The only thing that we changed in preparation for the Oneonta game was our focus,” Bettke said. “When we first saw them, we had a great game plan, but didn’t focus and get the job done. This time around we all locked in, followed through with the game plan, and shut them down.”
With New Paltz leading for most of the game, the Dragons diminished the Hawks lead by as much as nine in the fourth quarter. Following a time out called by Oneonta at 2:36, New Paltz went in for a few defensive stops and kept the Dragon’s third-year forward and guard Leanne Corso, who scored as many as 28 in the game on Dec. 8, to a mere 18 points.
Bettke managed to break her personal record on Saturday with a total of 32 points.
“Lindsay is such a special player,” Seward said. “She has been for her entire career, and now she just understands the game so well and knows when to pick her spots so much better. I’m just sitting back enjoying watching her play as she closes out a spectacular career.”
The Hawks will go head-to-head with Oswego State for the second time on Tuesday Jan. 29 at home.