Men’s Basketball Continues to Seek Playoff Berth

Fourth-year guard Dylan Balducci currently leads the team with 14.2 points per game. Photo courtesy of sports information.

The men’s basketball team split their past conference weekend 1-1, taking home a win on the road Saturday, Feb. 3, against SUNY Fredonia after losing to Buffalo State the day before.

Starting the game off with an 11-1 run and entering the second half with the lead, the Hawks could not finish off the Bengals. On Friday, Feb. 2, they lost 81-77 in their second faceoff of the season. A double-double from Buffalo’s fourth-year guard and forward Mike Henry proved to be no match for the Hawks’ defense, as he tallied 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists over a 40-minute span.

The Hawks were led by fourth-year guard Dylan Balducci, who recorded 18 points, three rebounds, four assists and four steals. Fourth-year forward Brandon Guest and second-year forward and center Nick Arthur also scored in the double digits, shooting for 13 and 10 points, respectively.

In a game with eight different lead changes, the Hawks saw big results from their bench, who outscored Buffalo’s bench 31-15.

“Getting contributions from other guys makes us hard to defend, because it’s not always just the main guys who are stepping up for us,” Balducci said. “It makes us really hard to scout and plan against.”

The Hawks bounced back the following day, outscoring Fredonia 70-66. Trailing the Blue Devils the entire first half, New Paltz gained the lead with 12:27 left on the clock in the second, and battled until the final minutes for the win.

“After a disappointing loss Friday, it felt good to come together on Saturday,” third-year guard Cory Garcia said. “We came out with more energy [in the second half], and you could determine by the look in all of our eyes that we weren’t going to be denied.”

Balducci led the team in offense once again, scoring 18 points while grabbing three rebounds and three assists. Second-year guard and forward Tristan Wissemann, second-year forward Matthew English and first-year guard Jake Passaretti all shot for 11 points each.

The Blue Devils were led by fourth-year forward Ian Helps, who recorded a double-double with 18 points, 15 rebounds, one assist and two steals. Fourth-year guard Dante’ Williams scored 12 points, as well.

“I think Friday was a disappointing loss for sure,” head coach Keith Kenney said. “But that’s the good thing about playing games back to back sometimes; the best medicine to recover from a loss is to get one back the following day.”

After this weekend, the Hawks are now 7-14 overall, with a  4-10 record in State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) play. New Paltz’s seven wins marks their most since the 2014-15 season.

Ranked eight out of 10 teams, New Paltz will need to win their last four games and receive help from other teams to reach the playoffs.

“It’s going to to be tough,” Garcia said. “But, I hope these four teams are aware that we are looking to spoil some team’s playoff hopes.”

The Hawks will finish off their season on the road with two more weekends of conference play. They face SUNY Geneseo Friday, Feb. 9 and The College at Brockport Saturday, Feb. 10, followed by SUNY Potsdam Friday, Feb. 16 and SUNY Plattsburgh Saturday, Feb. 17.

New Paltz was able to take a win at home Dec. 2 in their last match up with Geneseo, outscoring the Knights 73-60. The Hawks also lost two close games earlier in the year to Brockport and Potsdam, losing 71-79  Dec. 1 and 73-75 Jan. 27, respectively.

“We feel confident,” Kenney said. “Winning on the road is difficult, but we’ve played all these teams and know we can compete with them.”