On Nov. 9 the SUNY New Paltz men’s basketball team won their season home-opener 90-79 against the CUNY Baruch Bearcats.
The first half began 11 seconds in when Baruch’s fourth-year forward Benjamin Boateneg scored at 19:42. New Paltz’s third-year guard Jake Passaretti answered with a three-pointer assisted by fourth-year forward Tristan Weissemann.
Third-year shooting guard Adnan Bajrami had a good jumper, upping Baruch’s score to four. Weissemann answered with a three-pointer assisted by Passaretti.
Bajrami scored a three-pointer and two jump shots, but New Paltz’s fourth-year forward Scott Reisert and Passaretti kept up; Reisert with a jumper and Passaretti with two three-pointers.
“Jake was our third leading scorer coming back from last year for our top guys,” said Head Coach Keith Kenney. “He’s improved a lot. I think he’s primed for a really big year because he just worked really hard this summer, improved his body, his game, his jump shot, but we expect big things out of him.”
The half continued to be a head-to-head competition between the Bearcats and the Hawks. The scoreboard read 43-41, with New Paltz in the lead going into the half.
Almost five minutes into the second half, first-year point guard Sean Donnellan scored a jump shot at 16:44, giving Baruch a 49-45 lead. New Paltz refused to back down and tallied on 12 points before allowing Baruch to score again. Passaretti hit a free throw, fourth-year forward Matthew English and third-year guard Richard Altenord had good layups, followed by a good jumper by first-year guard RJ Meyers-Turner and another jumper from Altenordo. New Paltz finally led 54-49.
Meyers-Turner had his first standout of his college career during the game as he dropped 18 points for the Hawks off the bench, surprising his new teammates and coach.
“For this year we’re really happy with the [freshman] class and [will be] for the next three years,” Kenney said. “First your guys get them acclimated, [which] is huge. This year, they seem to be really embedded in the team and a lot of the older guys have been really accepting and kind of an outlet to them, to get them up to speed on what we do.”
The Hawks maintained their lead for the remainder of the game, with only a few turnovers resulting in a minimum lead of four points. New Paltz led in points for both halves, scoring 43 in the first and 47 in the second, totaling 90 to Baruch’s 79.
Compared to Baruch, New Paltz hit a total of 46.4% of three-pointers, while the Bearcats hit 36.8%. In free throws, the Hawks hit 63.0% while Baruch hit only 46.7%.
“I was really happy with the effort and it was our first game so there’s always things that you’re not happy with,” Kenney said. “I thought we attacked offensively to play the way we wanted to play, and Baruch was a really good team from last year as they won their championship in their league.”
The Hawks are back on Nov. 20, against Sage College in Albany at 7 p.m.
“We’ve kind of been preaching stay hungry and humble and just take it one game at a time, and not get too high or too low,” Kenney said. “I know it’s a lot of cliches but we actually do say that and are really happy where we’re at, but we have a lot of work to do.”