The New Paltz Men’s Basketball Team split the past weekend before the SUNYAC Tournament. On Friday, Feb. 18, New Paltz hosted the Plattsburgh Cardinals, securing their spot in the post-season, but narrowly defeated them, 89-85. The next day at 4 p.m., the Potsdam Bears defeated the Hawks 85-74. As a result of that loss, New Paltz was the No. 4 seed heading into SUNYACs and faced No. 5 Cortland at home, Tuesday Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.
On Friday, third-year forward Isaiah Bien-Aise earned the first eight New Paltz points in layups. Despite these early efforts, though, New Paltz did not have a lead over Plattsburgh until there were 43 seconds left in the first half, when another layup from Bien-Aise brought the score to 40-39.
The lead in the second half was momentarily lost, but recovered by second-year guard RJ Meyers-Turner, who also made a layup. A good dunk in the paint, 3-pointer and free throw from second-year forward Tyreik Frazier allowed for a more comfortable lead at 77-71.
Ultimately, the words of the day were ‘layup’ and ‘free throw’ as that’s what helped bring New Paltz to the postseason, as well as hard work and determination.
Even though the Hawks were destined to lose the Potsdam match, there were some highlights. New Paltz had more points in the paint than the Bears, 30-26. New Paltz also had more bench points and fast break points, at 22-16 and 12-7, respectively.
Bien-Aise had another great game, and led the team in points (17), tied with third-year guard/forward Brandon Scott.
The Hawks kept their momentum going into the first round of SUNYACs, against Cortland, though it was another very close game.
The game tied six times, second-year guard Rylan Blondo led the game in points, earning 25, followed by Bien-Aise with 18. Out of the 39 points in the first half, the duo achieved 18 of those combined. Other impressive performances in the first half were 3-pointers from Scott and Meyers-Turner and points scored on free throws from Frazier.
New Paltz only began to get ahead when the second half was halfway done. Two layups from Frazier in the point brought the score to 57-54, Hawks. New Paltz kept up the mojo with 3-pointers, and went on a scoring streak as the clock winded down, which is the time to do it.
Within just the last minute of the game, Cortland made things interesting by scoring 10 points, but New Paltz had a good enough cushion to win. New Paltz beat Cortland 84-81 to move on to face Oswego in the semifinals.
Be sure to support the Hawks as they travel to Laker territory, in Oswego, on Saturday, Feb. 26.