Men’s basketball fourth-year co-captain Andrew Seniuk’s jumper with two seconds left on the clock gave the Hawks a 64-63 win over Springfield College on Tuesday, Nov. 29 and their first win of the season.
After an 0-4 start to the season, the Wantagh, New York native’s shot gave the Hawks a much-needed momentum boost heading into their upcoming State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) games.
“Tuesday night’s win was good because we can show that we can grow from it,” Hawks head coach Mike Rejniak said. “This team is continuing to evolve and I think they’re understanding the amount of hard work and preparation that goes in day in and day out. That’s a characteristic of a young team so I think they’ve been growing, learning and being very coachable.”
Following a pair of free throws by the Pride that tied the contest at 60-60, Seniuk answered with a layup of his own to give New Paltz a 62-60 lead with 2:44 on the clock. Springfield countered with a 3-pointer with 1:42 remaining to put the Hawks down 63-62.
After Seniuk hit the go-ahead shot with two seconds left, Springfield attempted a desperation shot at the buzzer but third-year guard Dylan Balducci swatted it away as New Paltz hung on for their first taste of victory this season.
Seniuk led the Hawks offense with 19 points behind 7-of-13 shooting and finished defensively with five steals to help seal the win in “The Birthplace of Basketball.”
The win overall was special for Rejniak because it was an important win against his alma mater, as he learned how to coach at Springfield College, where he graduated from in 2004.
The Hawks have performed well offensively over the course of their four games, averaging 66.2 points per game along 37.8 rebounds as well. However, the defense is what the team needs to win those games.
In their season-opening game against Vassar, the Hawks failed to win the game after keeping the game within two points with 40 seconds remaining. They were also unable to maintain their lead with 1:37 remaining against D’Youville College on Saturday, Nov. 19.
New Paltz has been allowing 77.4 points per game because of turnovers and being outrebounded by their opponents. Rejniak noted that if the team can keep the ball in motion and stay solid defensively, the team can get more wins.
“We have to continue to play solid defense,” he said. “It has to be there night in and night out, whether the offense is there or not. We have to play like a team because when the ball is moving well, we are very good. When we try to be like LeBron [James] or [Michael] Jordan, that is not our style. We also have to rebound and I think we can put up a brand of basketball that is tough for SUNYAC teams to play against.”
New Paltz will begin conference play this weekend, as they will go up against SUNY Geneseo and The College at Brockport on Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 3.
Geneseo is fifth in the conference in points-per-game with 84, and also features a fourth-year guard in John Decker who has averaged 29.3 points-per-game so far this year. Brockport has been strong defensively, holding their opponents to 71 points-per-game which is third in the conference.
“Geneseo and Brockport are two very different teams,” Rejniak said. “Geneseo is more run-and-gun because they have good scorers and Brockport is more in your face kind of team. The biggest thing with these back-to-back games is that you need amnesia. Whatever happened the day before you have to clean out of your head and be ready for what’s ahead.”
• Friday, Dec. 2 @ SUNY Geneseo at 5:30 p.m.
• Saturday, Dec. 3 @ The College at Brockport at 2 p.m.
•Tuesday, Dec. 6 vs. SUNY Cortland at the Hawk Center, 5:30 p.m. (home opener)