Your SUNY New Paltz women’s basketball team is one step closer to a SUNYAC Championship after an amazing winning streak of 11, allowing them to bypass quarterfinals and move right on to the semifinals. On Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 5:30 the Hawks won against Cortland in overtime, 74-68. On Friday, Feb. 21 at 5:30 New Paltz crushed Plattsburgh 73-45, and finally the next day versus Potsdam at 2 p.m., the Hawks prevailed 78-55.
Their first game against Cortland was a bit more challenging for the Lady Hawks, yet the competition just made it all the more exciting. The only conference loss the Hawks had so far was against Cortland, so the ladies were eager for a rematch, especially after tacking on eight wins in a row since their Jan. 21 loss.
Each quarter ended with a very close score. 17-12 Hawks in the first, 31-30 Hawks in the second, 45-44 Dragons in the third. The real fun came in the last quarter, because the score was tied 62-62 after two free throws from Hawks fourth-year guard/forward Paige Niemeyer with seven seconds left.
Five minutes was added in overtime. The Dragons broke the tie first, and seemed like they were about to defeat the Hawks once more. At 1:40, however, Cortland’s fouls became the death of them. A jumper and four free throws from Dietz, followed by two free throws from first-year guard Olivia Badura, and a free throw from fourth-year forward Philesha Teape gave the Hawks a 74-68 overtime victory.
Badura said beating Cortland this time around was her favorite moment of the season. “The atmosphere was just so fun to play in and it was nice to see how it would be when continuing farther into the NCAA tournament,” she said.
With a playoff seed confirmed, the ladies had to get two more regular season games under their belt to keep their fire going.
New Paltz started strongly against Plattsburgh taking a 73-45 victory. Fourth-year forward Maddie Van Pelt led the team in points scored with 15, and first-year guard Lexi Van Vorst and Badura were behind with 11 each. New Paltz scored 40 bench points.
The game against Potsdam went smoothly for New Paltz. In the first quarter, the Lady Hawks were up by 12 before the Bears could even get on the board. New Paltz was ahead 19 points to end the first quarter. The match continued with the Hawks soaring ahead, at the end of the third they were up 29 points. In the end, they took another easy victory 78-55 to end the regular season.
Reflecting back on an amazing season, Badura said it’s been a blessing to be a part of this talented team.
“Obviously with eight new freshmen it was going to be tough, but the seniors did such a great job instilling in us what New Paltz toughness really meant,” she said. “To prepare for playoffs we put a big emphasis on getting ahead of our work so we can focus our time and energy on basketball. Focus is a huge thing that can really change the outcome of the game, and in order to be successful in the postseason we have to be 100% focused at all times.”
Badura said the biggest goal for the team is to win the national championship. New Paltz will play Buffalo State at home, Friday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. for their SUNYAC semifinal match. New Paltz has already beaten Buffalo twice this season, once at home on Jan. 24 and more recently in Buffalo on Feb. 15. To add to their excitement, they’ve actually beaten Buffalo for the last 12 faceoffs, going all the way back to Feb. 20, 2015. Let’s hope the winning streak continues, and the Hawks can shut the Bengals down for the third time this season, and thirteenth time in a row.
“Going into the semifinals, everyone is super excited,” Badura said. “It’s definitely a lot more pressure, but I think if we embrace that pressure and run with it we are capable of a lot. Having a bye in the quarterfinals was beneficial as we got more time to prepare for our semifinals game.”