Pushing ahead with three more State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) wins against Buffalo State, SUNY Fredonia and SUNY Cortland, the women’s basketball team added to their 15-game win streak to gain the programs first ever Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) NCAA Division III poll top-25 ranking.
“We are all still hungry,” said fourth-year guard Rachel Simon. “Although there’s only three regular season games left, we are still very eager to learn and grow to our fullest potential. We aren’t done getting better.”
On Tuesday, the Hawks traveled to Cortland for their last road game of the regular season, clinching the top seed in the SUNYAC Tournament after a 81-57 win.
The Hawks started the first quarter up 14-13 against the Red Dragons at 1:35. A 3-pointer by Simon gave the Hawks a slight advantage heading into the second quarter.
Third-year forward Madison Van Pelt started a 15-0 run at 8:05 in the second, building New Paltz’s lead to as much as 17 midway through the quarter. New Paltz kept their double-digit lead, and played solid defense until the buzzer sounded to end the first half up 42-27.
The Hawks continued to hold their ground defensively in the third quarter, and limited Cortland to 7 points throughout the entire 10 minutes. With a layup off a rebound, fourth-year guard Taylor Howell increased New Paltz’s lead to 27 points at 0:37 to end the quarter.
The fourth quarter saw the Hawks lead increase to as much as 31, and saw one of their most efficient shooting percentages of the season going 55 percent from the field. Fourth-year guard Linsday Bettke and Simon both contributed 15 points to the victory, while third-year guard dropped 13.
On Friday, the Hawks battled a first-quarter slump to gain the victory against the Buffalo State Bengals. New Paltz struggled in the first-quarter, only scoring 13 points to put them behind the Bengals, 15-13. A second-quarter 18-0 run started by third-year guard Kei-Kei Glover gave the Hawks a 31-15 lead over Buffalo State. The Hawks made 10-of-19 from the floor in the second quarter, heading into the third up 40-18.
The Hawks lead increased to as much as 30 in the second half. New Paltz had control of the ball offensively for most of the third quarter never letting their lead fall by less than 19 and making eight out of 10 free throws to seal the 73-45 win.
On Saturday the Hawks went head-to-head with Fredonia, winning 81-53 off of the Blue Devils 26 turnovers.
With New Paltz up 11-10 at 3:48 on the clock in the first quarter, a 10-2 run driven by Bettke and Simon gave the Hawks a 20-12 advantage. A turn-around jumper off the glass by Van Pelt, coupled with a steal and layup, finished the quarter with New Paltz in front 24-14.
New Paltz kept increasing their already large cushion in the second quarter, with Bettke and Glover headlining on offense. The Hawks increased their lead to 20 in the quarter, with Simon sinking back-to-back 3’s to end the first half.
In the first half alone, the Hawks forced 17 turnovers by the Blue Devils, and played solid defense to provent any runs by Fredonia. New Paltz continued to push the pace into the second, increasing their lead to as much as 37 to take the 81-53 victory.
“We spoke a lot about attacking the basket the whole weekend so that was my mindset going into those games,” said fourth-year guard Taylor Howell. “As a team, I think we executed our game plan well. We knew the personnel and made them uncomfortable.”
The Hawks are back on their home court Friday Feb. 15 and Saturday Feb. 16, as they take on SUNY Potsdam and Plattsburgh State, respectively.
“We have tough, competitive players who love to play basketball and love to play it with one another,” said Hawks head coach Jamie Seward. “That along with excellent leadership, particularly from our seniors, and our talent obviously doesn’t hurt either.”