Women’s Basketball Cruises In Standings

Photo by Holly Lipka.

The women’s basketball team extended their win streak to seven games this week after a strong free throw shooting performance against SUNY Plattsburgh and a 51-point win against SUNY Oswego.

With only four games remaining in the regular season, the Hawks continue to dominate conference play, winning 11 out of the 14 games played against their State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) opponents. According to Hawks Head Coach Jamie Seward, it’s all because of one thing — consistency.

“We’re starting to do the things we deem more important more consistently,” Seward said. “We’re getting to the free throw line a lot, we’re rebounding fairly well, we’re defending fairly well and we’re starting to make shots from the perimeter. But the big thing is we’re consistent in a lot of areas.”

On Friday, Feb. 5, the team traveled to SUNY Potsdam for their second matchup this season against the Bears. The Hawks won by a score of 89-42 at the Hawk Center when the two teams previously met on Dec. 5, 2015.

The Hawks dominated the first half 44-21 despite not being able to make a shot for the last 4:15 of the second quarter. The team finished with 22 points off turnovers and 31 points off the bench to win by a final score of 83-52. Second-year guards Jasmine Bryant and Sydney Pinn finished with 15 points and 13 points, respectively. First-year guard Lindsay Bettke also recorded 14 points off the bench in the Hawk’s win.

The Hawks looked to carry their momentum into the final game of their road trip against SUNY Plattsburgh on Saturday, Feb. 6 and they did so with a strong free throw performance. The team shot 29-of-32 from the line, connecting on 19-of-20 in the second half to beat the Cardinals 81-73.

New Paltz led 43-31 at halftime and refused to give in as the Cardinals put on the pressure in the third quarter, bringing the score within six. However, another layup by Small with 2:20 left on the clock kept the Hawks ahead with a 55-47 edge. The Hawks capitalized on Plattsburgh fouls in the fourth quarter to maintain their lead and seal the win.

Hawks third-year co-captain Kit Small converted 11-of-11 from the line and 8-of-13 from the field to collect a career-high 27 points. Bryant shot 5-of-9 from the perimeter, 4-of-6 from the three-point line and 5-of-7 from the free-throw line for 19 points. For Plattsburgh, fourth-year forward Devona Paul notched 17 points and seven rebounds while fourth-year guard/forward Stephanie Linder tallied 17 points and a game-high five assists.

Hawks third-year co-captain Courtney Irby said the team played well on the road trip and they go to play to their full potential even if they do not have their home crowd cheering for them on the road.

“Our team’s overall play over the recent road trips was pretty consistent,” Irby said. “We know that traveling long hours and playing in a gym that we are not comfortable with is challenging. We embrace it and play the same way that we would as if we were on our home court.”

After sweeping their road trip, the Hawks came home to play SUNY Oswego. This game featured another strong free-throw shooting performance, with New Paltz sinking 11 of their 12 attempts and shooting 46.3 percent (31-of-67) en route to a 83-32 win.

Fourth-year guard, Colleen Ames (10), second-year guard/forward Laura Stuart (13), Small (17) and Bettke (14) were the four players who finished with double-digit points. For Oswego, fourth-year guard Tayler Sorell led the Lakers with nine points with third-year guard Nicole SantaMaria contributing in eight points. Second-year forward Zana Dillard tallied 10 rebounds in the loss.

Although the Hawks dominated the Lakers, Seward said it is important for the team to take it one game at a time and conference games should always be taken seriously because each game becomes progressively more valuable.

“Everyone knows you and what you do offensively and defensively, so there’s less that you’re going to surprise someone with and it really comes down to focus and execution,” Seward said. “It has that much more value, you play everyone twice. It’s like the bully on your block versus the bully on the other side of the neighborhood; you have to really hone in on detailed things to really be successful because they are going to take away your primary things and you’re going to have to be able to utilize your secondary options in different areas.”

On Wednesday, Feb. 10 the Hawks debuted as the No. 6 ranked team in the first release of the NCAA Div. III Women’s Basketball East Regional Rankings.

The Hawks look to extend their win streak in their final home games against SUNY Geneseo on Friday, Feb. 12 at 5:30 p.m. and The College at Brockport on Saturday, Feb. 13. at 2 p.m.

Following the home games, New Paltz will finish their season on the road against Buffalo State on Friday, Feb. 19 and SUNY Fredonia on Saturday, Feb. 20 in hopes of avenging a home loss to the Blue Devils on Jan. 22.

The season is coming to a close, but every practice and game is crucial in the road to the SUNYAC Tournament, where the Hawks look to win their first SUNYAC title since their 24-4 season in 2013.

“The days we have practice we focus on getting better and sharpening up the little things that will make us that much of a better team in the future,” Irby said. “As long as we continue to persevere and strive for perfection and find greatness along the way, that will help us to have a strong SUNYAC Tournament performance.”