The men’s basketball team split their past weekend on the road 1-1, picking up a win against SUNY Potsdam on Friday, Feb. 5 and a loss by SUNY Plattsburgh the next day.
On Friday, the Hawks led from start to finish and captured a 94-80 victory over the Bears. The Hawks shot 56.9 percent from the floor, 50 percent from beyond the arc and 87.5 percent from the free throw line. They also scored 21 points off Bears’ turnovers and limited their own turnovers to a season low of nine.
This was the men’s highest scoring output of the year with five individual players recording double figures on the night. Fourth-year co-captain R.J. Rosa scored 27 points, fourth-year co-captain Alex Perlman tallied a career-high 18 points coming off the bench, third-year forward Andrew Seniuk notched 16 points, fourth-year guard Keegan Donovan scored 11 points coming off the bench and first-year guard/forward Nick Paquette scored 10 points. Hawks third-year forward Brandon Guest also contributed with seven points, 12 rebounds, five assists, four blocks and one steal.
“I think Alex [Perlman] played well, he really stepped up during the Potsdam game and it was good to see him playing the way we know he can,” Rosa said.
The scoring for the Hawks began immediately after a failed alley-oop attempt by Potsdam during the first possession with a layup by Guest and two treys by Rosa to give New Paltz an early 8-0 lead.
A small 5-0 run by the Bears decreased New Paltz’s lead to 21-19, but the Hawks would go on a 9-1 run down the stretch punctuated with a jumper by Paquette to put the Hawks up 30-20 with 8:31 remaining before the half.
The two teams traded points until Perlman hit a buzzer beater for three sending them into the locker room leading 52-40 at the half.
The Hawks continued to dominate during the second half, with their highest lead of 21 points occurring four times within in the last 10 minutes of the game.
The Hawks fell to the No. 24 Plattsburgh Cardinals by a score of 102-64 on Saturday. The Cardinals are currently first in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC).
“Saturday was tough, I could see it in my guys’ eyes and it’s one of those games that I wish we could play again after a couple days of rest, but that’s not how it is and they [Plattsburgh] are ranked 24th in the country for a reason,” said Hawks Head Coach Mike Rejniak. “They’re a very good team, they’re senior-laden and their experience showed on Saturday.”
Impact players for the Hawks were Paquette with 13 points, first-year guard Cory Garcia achieving career highs with 10 points, five rebounds, four steals and three assists coming off the bench, second-year forward Brandon Tolliver with a team-high of eight rebounds coming off the bench and first-year guard Matt Misser with three steals.
The Cardinals scored off the first possession and began the contest with nine unanswered points. After swelling their lead to 13 points, the Hawks retaliated with back-to-back 3-pointers by Donovan and Seniuk to pull them within seven.
Plattsburgh then pushed their lead back to double digits and the Hawks remained close until the Cardinals went on a 9-0 run which put them up by 26 with 8:54 remaining in the first half. The Cardinals led 56-32 at halftime.
On Tuesday, Feb. 9 the Hawks were defeated by the SUNY Oswego Lakers on their home court by a score of 73-57. Their overall record is now 4-16 and 3-11 in the SUNYAC.
Despite the team’s record, Rejniak remains faithful in his players and continues to expect improvement.
“It doesn’t just go down to wins and losses, my goal right now is to continue to coach this team and continue to get them better each and every day,” he said. “If that happens, the wins will take care of themselves. I want progress, not perfection. I always tell the guys I just want us to continue to focus and work on improving our weaknesses while continuing to make our strengths as big as boulders.”
The Hawks will next face off against SUNY Geneseo on Friday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hawk Center. The next day, the Hawks play SUNY Brockport at 4 p.m. for their Senior Day. The team will celebrate the careers of their three seniors Donovan, Rosa and Perlman and their contributions to the program.
Rosa said that the team will continue to work hard for the remainder of the season.
“Goals don’t change, you still go out every night and you try to win, but I think really we’re just playing for each other at this point,” he said. “Obviously we’re not making playoffs, so we’re not only looking to ruin other teams’ chances but just doing it for each other and really embracing these couple games that we have left.”