The men’s basketball team experienced success on the road and at home over intercession bringing their overall record to 10-8 and 5-6 in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC). Of their six wins over the past month, five of them were on the road and two were overtime victories.
Hawks head coach Keith Kenney attributes the recent road victories to better basketball on both sides of the court. He added that the overtime wins have been positive for the team.
“We feel comfortable in close games,” he said. “And I think almost enjoy it.”
The Hawks’ most recent win came at rival SUNY Oneonta with a final score of 69-52 due in large part to second-year guard Jake Passaretti with a career-high of 24 points. The Hawks “paid with passion,” according to Kenney, having one of their best defensive performances forcing 14 turnovers and limiting leading scorers third-year guard Kevin Mackin, second-year guards Andres Rivera and Joseph Bull to 13, 13 and 10 points, respectively.
“Sometimes on the road shots won’t fall like they do on your home court,” said third-year captain Tristan Wissemann. “But defense travels.”
New Paltz returned to the court shortly after Christmas to compete in the Medgars Evers tournament on Friday, Dec. 29 and Saturday, Dec. 30. They picked up two non-conference victories, Friday’s being the first road win of the year where Wissemann was recognized as the first SUNYAC men’s basketball Athlete of the Week of 2019 after finishing with a career-high 30 points against the College of New Rochelle.
“All the overtime and really close wins have really brought our team together and we’re beginning to see how much potential we have as a collective unit,” Wisseman said. “We’re getting hot at the right time.”
The Hawks did however drop their next two conference matchups in a row against conference leader SUNY Oswego and SUNY Geneseo on Tuesday, Jan. 8 and Friday, Jan. 11 respectively. They took a 30-point loss on the road to the Lakers and suffered a heart-breaker in the final seconds of their home contest against the College at Brockport ending with a final score of 63-65. They were, however, able to bounce back for a 76-73 overtime victory in the Hawk Center against SUNY Geneseo the next day.
SUNY Cortland handed the Hawks another conference loss at home defeating New Paltz 67-89 on Tuesday, Jan. 15. The Hawks responded the following weekend by beginning a three-game SUNYAC streak picking up victories against SUNY Fredonia (79-59) on Friday, Jan. 18 and Buffalo State (66-64) on Saturday, Jan. 19 followed by Saturday’s victory against Oneonta. The SUNYAC-leading Oswego State Lakers snapped New Paltz’s streak on Tuesday defeating the Hawks 46-67.
The Hawks currently hold the sixth spot in the SUNYAC standings over rival Oneonta in their push for the playoffs. Kenney said that in order to maintain the push for playoffs the Hawks will have to play better against the top teams in the SUNYAC by improving their offense and guarding the 3-point line better.
“We know we can beat anyone in this conference any given night,” Passaretti said. “We can’t be satisfied with our current position.”
The Hawks will be on the road again at the College at Brockport on Friday, Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m. and SUNY Geneseo on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 4 p.m. as they continue to seek a spot in the playoffs.