After a rough start in November, SUNY New Paltz’s Women’s Basketball team has rebounded.
Following a team-bonding experience playing basketball in Costa Rica and a lengthy preseason, the Lady Hawks fell short in their first four games. Their final game before conference play was their home season-opener against Stevens Institute of Technology. The women used their home-court advantage to beat Stevens 62-50.
“We finally got a win under our belts after losing our first four games,” fourth-year Captain Caitlin Irwin said. “It also feels good because the last two years that we played them we lost by a decent amount.”
Stevens won 21 of 28 games and beat the Hawks 56-46 last season. The win was big for a team that is struggling with cohesion and consistency.
“Beating Stevens, who usually wins their league definitely gave us a confidence booster,” fourth-year Captain Kaitlin Clifford said. “It also allowed us to see what we still need to work on, and was definitely a good win heading into SUNYAC play.”
The team’s central focus following their first win at Hawk Center became SUNY Fredonia, according to Head Coach Jamie Seward. While the losses early on are a mental strain, they were not part of official conference play.
“It has been a slow start, but we had been a little banged up, and that slowed our progress in practice early on,” Seward said. “However, now we are getting healthy.”
The Hawks came out strong on Dec. 2, beating Fredonia 77-47.
“We often have spurts where we play really well and then we let down,” Irwin said. “We are really working on playing well for the full 40 minutes and that is what will get us wins.”
After Fredonia, the Hawks played Buffalo State at home and lost 70-59 for the first time in 14 straight home games. The team came out strong and confident having reviewed the scouting report, but were punished by the 31 fouls that gave Buffalo 48 free-throw opportunities, helping the Bengals finish on top.
On Dec. 6, just three days after the game against Buffalo State, the Hawks faced SUNY Plattsburgh at home and won 75-61, led by a 19-point and 19-rebound display by fourth-year forward Shanay Bradley, a career-high.
“I go into every game with the same thought and it’s stopping the other person from having a normal averaging night, and it does change depending on who it is, but it’s the same motives,” said Bradley.
The Hawks have one more game at home before they are sent back on the road. SUNY Oneonta will visit New Paltz on Saturday, Dec. 10 in the Hawk Center at 2 p.m. Last year, the team split their performance against the Red Dragons securing a win at home and losing on the road. Oneonta is 4-3 this season, having lost all games they’ve played away.
“We can rely on every person at any given time,” Clifford said. “We are athletic and fast and have players that can play in any spot and defend any player.”
The athletes of New Paltz Women’s Basketball are approaching this next game with confidence that they will perform well on their own court.
“There is such a great atmosphere at our home gym that we seem to play very well,” Irwin said. “As a player I hope to approach these next conference games in a positive way. I believe this team can be great and as a captain I hope to lead them to success.”