The top seeded SUNY New Paltz women’s basketball team had a weekend of excitement in the SUNYAC Championship, taking the trophy home for the Hawks.
During the first quarter, the Lady Hawks dominated the Buffalo State Bengals, allowing only five points to light up their side of the scoreboard. In scoring 18 during the first quarter, fourth-years Maddie Van Pelt, Paige Niemeyer, Philesha Teape, Marion Dietz and first-years Maddie Gillis, Lexi Van Vorst and Cassidy Deaver all tallied points to the board for the Hawks.
By halftime, Buffalo brought the scoring margin to 14, not differing much from their initial margin of 13 the previous quarter. Gillis had a layup in-the-paint plus a sunk free throw to start off another dominant flight in score from the Lady Hawks. Teape and Van Pelt followed suit later on. Niemeyer tallied two from the line. The score was 27-13 going into the half.
Dietz began the third quarter with a 3-pointer six seconds in. New Paltz’s lead shifted considerably during this third quarter, however they always maintained a lead of at least 14 points.
The Lady Hawks led in points-in-paint with 10 to the Bengals’ six for the quarter. Going 6-6 in 3-pointers and 4-4 in free throws gave New Paltz an obvious advantage over Buffalo State. Van Pelt finished off the quarter with a 3-pointer with six seconds left on the clock, putting New Paltz up 59-35 going into the final quarter.
Dietz started off the final quarter with a layup, where Teape and Gillis followed suit with jumpers. First-year Graci Serravillo sunk two free throws, and after a turnover, Teape came in to sink another two points. Serravillo came out with another two free throws in the quarter, and the net saw first-year Semaiah Williams’ scoring debut with a layup in the paint. Williams offered two free throw points, and first-year Gabby Palladino forced forward with 36 seconds left to sink a 3-pointer. The Hawks won 78-49 and clinched a chance to win the SUNYAC Championship.
After an overtime win over the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons on Feb. 18, the Lady Hawks were back for another win and another SUNYAC Championship title.
The first quarter gave the Lady Hawks a cushion that couldn’t be met. New Paltz held the Red Dragons to only eight points in the quarter, compared to their 21. Van Pelt began with two points off a jumper in the paint, and over a minute later, sunk a 3-pointer. Not stopping there, Van Pelt added another two at 6:47. This consistency was followed by Dietz, Niemeyer and Deaver, who all tallied points in the first.
Only adding 12 points to the board in the second, New Paltz was under fire, with their opponent sneaking up to just eight points behind them at the end of the quarter. Eight of the Hawks’ 12 points were scored by Gillis who showed offensive triumph. Van Pelt added two points while Van Vorst tallied another two behind her.
The Red Dragons were heating up behind the Hawks, but the Hawks refused to collapse. Gillis started off the third with a 3-pointer at 9:32, but the Hawks had difficulty with their defense as the Red Dragons tallied eight points in the four minutes since the Lady Hawks last scored. Five free throw points and two jumpers from Van Pelt brought the Hawks to 45-43 going into the last quarter of the game, and their final chance to gain this title.
Van Pelt started off the momentum for the Hawks, scoring the first six points for New Paltz in this final quarter while the rest of the Hawks worked on defending the Red Dragons. Soon, fouls would be the savior for the Lady Hawks, giving them more room in front of Cortland. Dietz tallied seven points on free throws while Niemeyer had four and Gillis had one.
“It definitely feels surreal. I’m just so proud of this team and the year we have had – I can’t put it into words,” Dietz said. “We’ve been getting ready for the NCAAs like any other week, by trying to stick to our weekly routine as much as possible. We’re also trying to convey to our freshmen what the experience is like and share as much as we can with them, since myself and other seniors have done this twice.”
The Lady Hawks snatched the SUNYAC Championship from the grasp of the Cortland Red Dragons. New Paltz will face the Husson College Eagles at home on Friday at 7:30 p.m. for round one of the NCAA Championship. Can these Lady Hawks continue to make history? Let’s wait and see.