Despite Injuries, Hawks Gain Two SUNYAC Wins

After a strong weekend, Hawks third-year guard Rachel Simon was named SUNYAC Women's Basketball Player of the Week. Photo courtesy of sports information.

The women’s basketball team won a pair of State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) games over the weekend and is currently tied for third in the conference standings.

The team enjoyed a successful weekend despite missing some key players due to injuries. Second-year forward Paige Niemeyer is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL, while third-year guard Lindsay Bettke has not seen any action since suffering an ankle injury on Jan. 19. Bettke currently leads the team with 12.9 points per game, while Niemeyer is the team leader in blocks with 15.

“One thing that we emphasize on our team is having one another’s back, so when Lindsay and Paige went down we really had to step it up for them,” Hawks third-year guard Taylor Howell said. “We’ve remained successful because our only option is success. We expect nothing less, regardless of our situation.”

The Hawks began the weekend with a 56-50 win over SUNY Plattsburgh on Friday, Jan. 26.

The game did not begin well for the Hawks, as Plattsburgh opened the match with a 10-2 run. New Paltz managed to make it a two-point game at halftime as the score stood at 23-21.

Shooting was an issue for the the Hawks, as they recorded a mere 15.4 field goal percentage in the first half. However, the team more than doubled that mark in the second half, as they made 31.6 percent of their shots for the remainder of the game.

New Paltz managed to take their first lead of the game at the 5:54 mark in the third quarter on a 3-pointer from second-year guard Marion Dietz. However, the lead would not last long and the Hawks entered the final quarter down 40-33.

New Paltz came back to tie the match on a layup in the paint by third-year guard Rachel Simon with 2:58 remaining on the clock. The Cardinals eventually took a 50-49 lead after two-consecutive successful free throws by second-year forward Frannie Merkel.

With just 34 seconds remaining, Hawks second-year forward Maddie Van Pelt sank a jumper to give New Paltz a 51-50 lead that they wouldn’t surrender.

Simon tied a season high with 20 points and grabbed a season-high 12 rebounds, while notching a team-high three assists. For her strong performance over the weekend, Simon was named the SUNYAC Women’s Basketball Athlete of the Week on Monday, Jan. 29.

“It’s certainly a great feeling to be acknowledged like that and I am truly blessed to be a part of this team,” Simon said. “Without the girls and our coaches I wouldn’t get the same opportunities I’m given out on the court.”

The following day, New Paltz cruised to an 81-37 win over SUNY Potsdam. The Hawks currently hold an overall record of 12-7, including an 8-4 mark in conference.

The Bears never led at any point in the contest, while the Hawks held a lead as large as 47 points late in the fourth quarter. New Paltz bounced back from their poor shooting the prior day and made 36.8 percent of their shots to earn their most lopsided victory of the season.

Simon led the team with 20 points for the second-consecutive game, and notched three steals. First-year forward Demi Herasme was second on the team with 12 points and tallied five rebounds. Van Pelt grabbed a team-high eight rebounds, while Howell led the team with four steals.

The Hawks will next travel to Buffalo State on Friday, Feb. 2 and face SUNY Fredonia the following day. New Paltz defeated both the Bengals and Blue Devils when they hosted them earlier this season. The weekend will begin a six-game road trip to conclude the team’s regular season, a tough test that Hawks head coach Jamie Seward believes his team is up for.

“There is no way to spin it and say that it is anything other than a really difficult stretch,” Seward said. “But what we have chosen to do is be really upfront and honest in that this six-game road stretch is quite the challenge, and it will either break us or it will strengthen our resolve to the point where we cannot be broken. I, for one, am looking forward to the challenge, and I really believe our players are as well.”