The defending 2020 SUNYAC champions, the SUNY New Paltz women’s basketball team, had much more fight left in their system for this season. The Lady Hawks had the opportunity to move on to the NCAA Division Three Championships, and their first test was Husson University. Coming all the way from Bangor, Maine, the Eagles took on the Hawks at home on Friday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m.
First-year guard/forward Maddie Gillis scored a jumper right off the bat to give the Hawks a promising start. Fourth-year guard Marion Dietz quickly followed with a 3-pointer and a jumper of her own. 3-pointers were a highlight of the first quarter, as Dietz got two more herself, along with one from first-year guard Lexi Van Vorst.
New Paltz was already soaring way ahead, and they were only in the second quarter. A foul from the Eagles at 8:16 allowed fourth-year guard/forward Paige Niemeyer to score two shots on free throws, and another free throw from first-year guard Olivia Badura added another point to the Hawks’ tally. At 5:05, a 3-pointer from Van Vorst put New Paltz ahead 12 points, 29-17.
The third quarter finished in similar fashion. Free throws, layups and 3-pointers kept New Paltz way ahead. To finish the match out in the fourth quarter, the two Maddies on the team went on a scoring streak. Fourth-year forward Maddie Van Pelt started it off with a 3-pointer, followed by one with Gillis. Van Pelt scored a free throw, then a jumper by Gillis and back to Van Pelt with a jumper.
As the game winded down, the Eagles managed to nab the last points of the game with a free throw. It did not matter, however, as the Hawks took the match 69-50, extending their already awe-inspiring season even further.
The win meant New Paltz would be taking on Smith College the next day at 7 p.m. The Lady Hawks had the home advantage on their side, with fans, friends and family cheering them on, yet this match seemed it was going to be more difficult.
Fifteen seconds into the game, the Pioneers picked up a jumper. Niemeyer followed with a 3-pointer, but a foul by Van Pelt allowed the Pioneers to score again on a free throw. The Hawks were not ready to go down without a fight, and at 5:14 Niemeyer tied the game at nine with a 3-pointer. The Pioneers scored again, but the Hawks kept fighting.
During the second quarter, New Paltz picked up some force and cut the lead of the Pioneers. What went from a score of 19-12 turned into 19-17 in just a minute, thanks to good work from Badura and Van Pelt. The rest of the quarter mirrored that style of play; Smith would get ahead and New Paltz would cut them short, yet not short enough to steal the lead back.
In the third, at 4:44 Badura shot the 3-pointer needed to bring New Paltz to a 41-40 lead. The quarter continued, and both teams were struggling for the lead back. The Pioneers took it, then the Hawks again, and with five seconds left Dietz scored two free throws to tie the game at 47-47.
The last quarter was going to determine who would be moving on to the next round, and Van Pelt kicked it off with a 3-pointer. If it seemed the Hawks had some force earlier, now they were giving it 110%. A layup from fourth-year forward Philesha Teape, a jumper and a free throw from Niemeyer and a jumper from Gillis brought the score to 57-47 Hawks.
The end of the game took a different turn. The Pioneers scored two 3-pointers in a row and a jumper. The game was tied at 1:05. With just two seconds left, the Pioneers scored a jumper to bring the score to 62-60, Smith.
All things must eventually come to an end. There is so much to be proud of this season, and the ladies proved they gave it everything they had even until the last moments. Come back next year for what’s likely to be another outstanding season from your New Paltz women’s basketball team.