SUNY New Paltz Men’s Basketball Over Geneseo

By Monica D’Ippolito
NEW PALTZ – Whether it was working in the paint, or hustling to make a big block, State University of New York at New Paltz men’s basketball senior Brandon Guest kept making plays Saturday against visiting SUNY Geneseo (3-3 overall, 1-1 SUNYAC). His efforts, as Hawks coach Keith Kenney put it, were “contagious,” as his energy spurred SUNY New Paltz’s second home win of the season.

“Obviously he is athletic, but to me that isn’t his No. 1 attribute. Nobody cares, nobody has more heart than Brandon,” Kenney said following his team’s 73-60 victory over the Knights. “He missed last year and he is hungry this year. I think he is one of the guys that brings it every single night and I know what we’re getting out of him, but the way he rebounded the ball in the end, the way he attacked the rim, I was really, really happy with.”
The Knights were hitting the 3-ball early, which allowed them to get in front to start the game. But once Cory Garcia knocked down his own shot from the perimeter to tie the game at 13 midway through the half, SUNY NewPaltz (2-4, 1-1) started taking over.  

Dylan Balducci piled on with another 3 to push the Hawks ahead for the first time in the game, and they stayed in front for the rest of the half.
Geneseo re-gained the lead one more time in the opening minutes of the second period, but Guest quickly answered to push the score, 35-34. SUNY New Paltz never relinquished the advantage from that point forward.

“We came out very confident,” Guest said. “Honestly, yesterday’s game was just re-assurance that we really are a good team. We stayed together, we scrap, we get loose balls and if we just continue to hustle than anything is possible, especially in SUNYAC.”

The Knights got within six several times down the stretch, but the Hawks stayed patient offensively, moved the ball well and found good looks to continue padding their cushion.

A 7-0 run midway through the half cut SUNY New Paltz’s lead down to four, but Nick Paquette and Balducci answered with back-to-back 3’s to lift the Hawks by 10 with about seven minutes left.

Guest then took over down the stretch. In the last four minutes the Washingtonville product pulled down four rebounds, registered four points and produced a highlight block in transition to help seal the victory.

“Just want to come out to get a win. That will to get a W means a lot to us. All of us,” Guest said. “If one guy brings the energy than it is just contagious and feeds down the line and hopefully good things like tonight happens again.”

Guest finished with 14 points — which all came in the second half — a season-high 16 rebounds, two blocks and two steals, while hitting 5-of-7 from the field and 4-of-6 from the foul line.
“Hard work pays off,” Guest added. “We’re just really excited and want to keep this streak going. Defending our home court is really important to us, especially getting W’s just want to represent our school that’s all.”

Kevin Coyle scored a team-high 16 points for SUNY New Paltz, to go along with two rebounds, five assist and a block. Balducci followed with 13 points, four rebounds and Garcia added 12 points, two boards, two assists, a block and a steal.

The Hawks have been trending up this season. They earned a home-opening victory over Vassar College Nov. 21 and although they took their first conference loss against the Golden Eagles Friday, they played well late and overcame a poor shooting performance. They built off that momentum with a convincing victory Saturday, and have already doubled last season’s win total from last season, while earning its first SUNYAC victory in nearly two year and first over Geneseo since the 2014-15 season.

“What I told the team was I was proud of their effort last night,” Kenney said. “We want to put two games together. We haven’t done that yet, but the effort and intensity was the same both games, back-to-back. We did carry it over to last night.”
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