New Paltz Women’s Basketball has had a record-breaking season with its undefeated status during the regular season and the Hawks’ fourth consecutive showing in the SUNYAC and NCAA Championships.
In this year’s NCAA Championship, New Paltz first faced the Gettysburg College Bullets on Friday, March 3. Coming fresh off their first season loss at the SUNYAC Championships, the Hawks rallied and continued to bring their all from the legendary season. Victoria Venus, fourth-year forward, said “Losing the championship was more of a lesson learned than a defeating feeling. We were still so proud of our season and knew we had more to prove in the NCAAs.” New Paltz maintained a steady lead for the duration of the game. The Hawks then advanced to the second round (the round of 32) with a 63-47 win.
The first quarter of the game showed a strong start for both teams, but ultimately the Hawks worked up a 7-4 lead by the first timeout with a free throw by Venus, according to the New Paltz Hawks game recap. “We play in such different types of conferences in just game style alone, so we knew the way we ran our offense we would be able to score any way we wanted. Once we started the game I felt confident in my team the whole time that we had it in the bag,” said Venus.
Coming back for the rest of the quarter it was neck and neck, ending on 15-14 New Paltz after Cassidy Deaver, fourth-year guard, made one-of-two free throws from the line. Then, the second quarter afforded the Hawks a comfortable 12-point lead after a 9-0 run at the start. The teams entered halftime with a jam-packed final minute ending with Brianna Fitzgerald, third-year forward guard, scoring a three-pointer at the last second.
With the second half underway, the Bullets crept up on the Hawks, closing in on the gap for a while. New Paltz made a quick turnaround and ended the third quarter with a 48-35 lead. Finally, they made it through the fourth quarter up by 16 points and took home the win.
This brought them to their second-round game against the Babson College Beavers. Babson hosted the 2023 NCAA Championship tournament, giving them the home-court advantage. The Hawks also were defeated in last year’s tournament by the Beavers in the first round.
Venus said, “In our game against Babson, I think our strength was keeping our composure through it all … We didn’t have every call go our way, and not every basket went in that normally would, but we stuck to our game plan and kept staying with what was working.”
The Beavers maintained the lead over the Hawks with an ultimate win of 76-66. New Paltz kept a tight gap between them in the first half, ending with 34-29 favoring Babson. Even with a strong start to the second half and reaching a tie of 42 points, the Beavers still maintained the lead after an 8-0 run in the third, ultimately aiding them in securing the win.