Men’s Basketball Hangs Tough

Third-year guard Dylan Balducci is currently averaging 10.9 points per game. Photo courtesy of sports information.

The men’s basketball team has dropped 13 straight games, including two losses this past weekend against State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) rivals SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Plattsburgh.

On Friday, Jan. 27, the Hawks lost a close game to Potsdam by a score of 73-68. After falling behind by 15 points in the first half, the Hawks came out hot in the second half, getting within one point after second-year guard Nick Paquette and third-year guard Dylan Balducci hit back-to-back three-pointers to make it a 67-66 game with 4:51 to go. 

Potsdam would get some breathing room and stifle the Hawks the remainder of the game, as the Hawks were only able to tack on two more points on a jumper from third-year guard Dylan Balducci, but unfortunately dropped the game by a slim five points. 

Hawks head coach Mike Rejniak says that the team has to find a balance in order to see positive results.

“We went down early, but came out with guns blazing in the second half against Potsdam,” Rejniak said. “We have to find a way to start full throttle and also learn to close out and seal the deal.” 

On Saturday, Jan. 28, the Hawks faced off against SUNY Plattsburgh and lost by 34 points, 90-56. 

After Hawks third-year forward James Saunders hit a layup in the paint with 12:09 to go in the first half to cut the game to 16-12, Plattsburgh erupted, going up by as much as 22 points at one point. 

Plattsburgh didn’t let up in the second half, as the Hawks fell behind by 30 points with 11:14 left after Cardinals second-year guard Brandon Johnson hit a fastbreak layup. 

Cardinals second-year forward Isaiah Johnson hit a layup with 5:15 to go to make it a 81-49 game. 

Johnson sunk two free throws later in the quarter to increase the Cardinals lead to a game high 36 points with 1:14 to go. 

Despite the weekend losses, Rejniak sees positives and improvements in the team’s performance. 

“Our young guys have been playing extremely well and I’m anxious to see how they will finish off the season,” Rejniak said. “We collectively need to maintain enthusiasm to finish strong.” 

The Hawks finish their season with a six-game homestand, starting with games against SUNY Fredonia on Friday, Feb. 3 at 5:30 p.m. and Buffalo State on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 2 p.m.

The last time New Paltz played Fredonia, the Hawks lost 82-68 while being down a couple of players but were able to battle back and keep the game close. 

With that being said, Coach Rejniak says that this is a very winnable weekend and the team has to stay positive. 

“You can’t look behind because you’ll see nothing but regret, and you can’t look ahead because you’ll see nothing but fear,” Rejniak said. “You have to stay focused and stay in the present. If you lose that mindset, you will compound mistakes.”