The women’s basketball team (4-3 overall, 2-1 SUNYAC) lost 76-69 against SUNY Oneonta on Saturday, Dec. 8, breaking their two-game winning streak.
“You have to give Oneonta credit, they were clearly the more aggressive team,” said Hawks head coach James Seward. “They took it to us early, put us on our heels and opened a lead in the first half. We didn’t defend well at all, and they made us pay for it.”
The Hawks started strong, and had a 20-18 lead on the visiting Red Dragons at the end of the first quarter. The high-scoring quarter was followed by a struggling offensive showing for New Paltz in the second quarter, getting out-scored 22-8 to go down by 12, 40-28.
The Hawks jumped back into game in the third quarter to score 22 points and decrease Oneonta’s cushion to only 4 points by the end. With New Paltz down 49-45 in the quarter, a layup by fourth-year guard Rachel Simon brought the Hawks within two. Oneonta answered with three free throws to add to their lead, but Simon once again answered with a 3-pointer to keep the Hawks close. The Red Dragons would halt the effort, scoring two more free throws to end the quarter.
In a back-and-forth fourth quarter, fourth-year guard Taylor Howell sank a 3-pointer with seven minutes left on an assist by fourth-year guard Lindsay Bettke to tie the game for the Hawks. Half a minute later, Bettke made a run for the basket and sank another three to give the Hawks their first lead of the second half with 6:34 to go.
“I think our strongest asset is how explosive we can be on offense,” Howell said. “We’ll go on runs within a few possessions and open up a lead. Another really strong asset is that we trust each other on the court to do what we do best.”
The two teams traded advantages for the final five minutes, with Oneonta taking as much as a five-point lead with two minutes remaining. A good jumper by third-year forward Paige Neimeyer and a 3-pointer by second-year guard and forward Nicole Ziogas tied the game once again for New Paltz.
Following a time-out called by the Red Dragons with less than a minute left, the Hawks fell behind once again when Oneonta ran a sideline play, resulting in a 3-pointer for the Red Dragons. With a three-point deficit and time winding down, the Hawks were forced to foul to stop the clock. Oneonta sank multiple foul shots, effectively securing the win.
Simon led the Hawks on offense with 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Bettke contributed 14 points, four rebounds and five assists.
“We need to defend with much more consistency,” Seward said. “We have played good defense at times, but we haven’t been able to have the consistency of focus and effort for long enough periods of time. That will really determine what kind of team we have this year.”
The Hawks will be back on the court following a two week break, going up against Cabrini University in the first game of the Moravian College tournament on Dec. 30.
“As a team, we didn’t play a full 40 minutes of hard and disciplined basketball,” Simon said. “We gave away points that essentially cost us the game and we can’t rely on our offense to carry us through the whole game. We need 40 minutes of defense to carry us.”