Controlling Destiny to Playoffs, Men’s Basketball Moves Forward

At 9-7 in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC), the men's basketball team controls their own destiny heading into the postseason. (Photo courtesy of Adam Koplik)

 A successful State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) weekend at home and road win against SUNY Cortland has given the Hawks momentum as they look to close out the regular season in the Hawk Center this weekend. The New Paltz men’s basketball team currently posts an overall record of 14-9 and 9-7 in conference.

“We kind of control our own destiny,” said third-year captain Tristan Wissemann. “We’re in a position we want to be in right now, and that’s all you can ask for. If we play the way we’re capable of, there’s no reason why we can’t be a top team in this conference.”

The Hawks handed Buffalo State an 88-70 loss on Friday night, leading for 36 minutes of the 40 minute contest. The Bengals did not make it an easy battle though as the score was set at 40-36 at the half.

New Paltz, however, jumped out to an 11-0 start to begin the half and led by as much as 25, capped off by a lay-up by fourth-year guard Nick Paquette with just over eight minutes to go. The Bengals got as close as 15 but could not catch up to the Hawks.

The victory was a team effort for the Hawks with five different players scoring in double figures. Leading the Hawks was second-year guard Jake Passaretti with 19 points, followed by Wissemann with 16 and third-year forward Scott Reisert with 14. Fourth-year captain Cory Garcia stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals.

“We will miss this senior class a great deal next year,” Passaretti said. “Paddy and Cory come out every night and play as hard as they possibly can and losing a lethal shooter like Nick is something that is tough to replace.”

The next day the Hawks avenged their loss against the Fredonia Blue Devils, eliminated from playoff contention earlier this season, with a narrow 74-70 victory.

The Hawks had a strong first half in the paint, scoring 24 of their 35 on the half in the key. They held a slight lead at halftime (35-32) and albiet close, the Hawks never relinquished their lead against Fredonia. 

The Devils cut what was a 12-point deficit to two points with two minutes to go, but Wissemann hit a clutch 3-pointer to extend the lead to five with less than a minute remaining. 

Fredonia first-year guard Matt Perez connected on two free throw attempts with 16.1 seconds left to trim the score to 70-67 Hawks, but after intentionally fouling Wissemann on the ensuing inbound to stop the clock, second-year forward Messiah Hill picked up the ball and dunked it as the referees were heading to the table and was given a delay of game technical.

Wissemann made 2-of-3 attempts to further extend the SUNY New Paltz lead with about 12 seconds remaining. Second-year guard Mark Morgan hit a 3-pointer for the Blue Devils, but Passaretti iced the game after making both free throw attempts at the charity stripe after an intentional foul.

Wissemann led all scoring with 24 points, while third-year forward Matthew English tossed in a season-high 10 points with five rebounds and an assist in just eight minutes off the bench.

Defense and contributions from the bench were the keys in Tuesday night’s victory against Cortland. The Hawks were able to limit the Red Dragons to only 61 points while the bench tossed in 24 of the team’s total 67 when some of the starters got in foul trouble.

Wissemann led the Hawks with 19 points and six rebounds followed by first-year forward Isiah Bien-Aise with a career-high 18 points and seven rebounds. Garcia followed with nine points and a game-high seven assists with four rebounds in 37 minutes. 

“We would love to send their seniors out on a high note,” he said. “They have been crucial to what we have accomplished this season. I am just so happy for them for supporting the program and myself. I’m so proud that they decided to stick with us and have led the way.”

The Hawks will celebrate their three graduating seniors Garcia, fourth-year captain Paddy Parr and Paquette their final weekend of the regular season Friday at 7:30 p.m. against SUNY Potsdam and Saturday at 4 p.m. against Plattsburgh State in the Hawk Center.