The women’s basketball team lost their most recent matchup by a score of 75-63 when they hosted Vassar College on Tuesday, Nov. 28.
New Paltz struggled early on as Vassar scored 28 points in the first quarter and held a 42-26 lead at halftime. The Brewers held a 22 point lead during the third quarter and the game entered the fourth quarter with a 52-38 score.
The Hawks’ offense came alive in the final quarter as they went on a 15-5 run to cut the deficit to just four points with 5:37 left on the clock. But New Paltz was unable to complete the comeback and Vassar left with a victory.
Hawks second-year guard Marion Dietz led the team with a season-high 19 points and eight rebounds. Second-year forward Maddie Van Pelt also had a strong performance, as she recorded 15 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
“It was too little too late,” Hawks head coach Jamie Seward said. “We allowed Vassar to come out and set the tone in the first quarter. They were more aggressive, more physical and they took it to us while we waited and tried to react to what they were doing. We did play defense for about eight or ten minutes in the second half, which is more than we had previously, so maybe that’s something to build on.”
Second-year forward Paige Niemeyer noted that the team has already noticed that their biggest hole is their defense and they are working to improve it.
“After every post game meeting we’ve had, defense has come up as one of our weakest attributes,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how many points we put up if we can’t defend our opponents. Defense has been the focal point of all of our practices since the first weekend of the season and there has definitely been some improvement.”
Prior to their loss against Vassar, the Hawks began their season by participating in the Eastern Connecticut State University Women’s Basketball Tip-Off. The team lost their first game of the season against Westfield State University by a score of 104-88 on Nov. 18.
Third-year guard Lindsay Bettke led the team with 26 points, while Niemeyer was right behind her with a career-high 21 tallies. Third-year guard Rachel Simon notched 12 points, nine rebounds and a team-high five assists in her Hawks debut, while Van Pelt grabbed a match-high 11 rebounds off the bench.
New Paltz bounced back the following day to claim their first win of the season over host Eastern Connecticut State University by a score of 76-73.
“The win against Eastern Connecticut was a nice learning opportunity for us,” third-year guard Rachel Simon said. “We took a lot from that game and although it was a win we still found several things we need to work on collectively. The weekend as a whole was good for us and it was nice to leave there by taking a step in the right direction.”
First-year forward Demi Herasme led the team with 20 points and 12 rebounds off the bench in just 25 minutes of action.
The Hawks quickly notched their second win of the season when they traveled to Hartwick College and won by a score of 75-69 on Nov. 21.
Bettke registered a career-high 28 points, while Dietz tallied 15 points, three assists and three steals. Bettke was named State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Women’s Basketball Athlete of the Week for her strong performance.
New Paltz will next host SUNYAC foes: The College at Brockport and SUNY Geneseo on Friday, Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 2 at 1 p.m., respectively. The Hawks won all three of their matchups against Brockport last season, including a 64-48 victory over the Golden Eagles in the SUNYAC Tournament semifinal round. Saturday will mark a rematch of the last two SUNYAC Championship matches, as New Paltz defeated the Knights 58-57 in last season’s final round and 65-52 in the 2016 installment.
“We’re preparing for conference play by focusing on our defense and perfecting every aspect of it,” Niemeyer said. “In these upcoming weeks, we will be facing five of our hardest matchups and it will be very hard to beat them on offense alone. We also have been going hard at each other all week, playing a lot of 5-on-5. It builds up a lot of emotion and aggression, so that when game day comes, it all gets let loose and we can be that aggressive, scrappy team that we pride ourselves on.”