By Monica D’Ippolito
POTSDAM – The State University of New York at New Paltz women’s basketball team collected its second-straight conference victory Saturday, comfortably defeating the hosting Bears, 82-54.
After a close opening quarter, the Hawks (4-2) started building its large cushion toward the end of the first period following an explosive 16-0 run, which had the Hawks making 4-of-4 from 3-point range to boost the advantage to 28-10 entering the second. Taylor Howell then started the following quarter with a 3 and propelled SUNY New Paltz’s largest lead of the half to 27 with 33 seconds left in the second quarter.
The Hawks caused 15 turnovers in the first half and totaled 27 caused turnovers in the game, leading to 26 points of those Bears miscues.
“The first half our defense definitely set the tone,” said SUNY New Paltz coach Jamie Seward. “We made it difficult for their drivers to get to the rim and made them play in tight spaces, which led to some turnovers. From there we were able to get out and run, and we really shot the ball well from behind the arc.”
Despite the large deficit, SUNY Potsdam kept fighting and cut down the Hawks’ lead to 15 with 2:53 left in the third quarter. But the Hawks refused to let the rally continue from there, as Bettke, Howell and Madison Van Pelt knocked down shots to take a 62-41 lead into the fourth.
“Unfortunately, we did not sustain that level of energy excitement and enthusiasm on defense in the second half,” Seward said. “I give Potsdam a lot of credit that despite being down big at the half and being a really young team, they came out and really took it to us in the third quarter.”
The Bears cut the deficit back to 17 down the stretch in the fourth quarter after two made free throws by Riley Luckie with 6:34 remaining. However, Howell again came in clutch for the Hawks, knocking down a 3 that started a 9-2 run.
“We cooled off from the perimeter and we need to learn to defend with energy when we aren’t shooting the ball well,” Seward said. “Fortunately Taylor did not cool off and allowed us to keep control of the game. It’s a source of tremendous proud to see the player Taylor has become offensively and it is really a credit to her hard work and perseverance.”
Howell led SUNY New Paltz with a career-high 21 points on 6-for-13 shooting from the field, while adding two rebounds and five steals. Bettke followed with 17 points, four rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Rachel Simon added 16 points, six rebounds and two assists.
“As for Lindsay, I don’t worry about her. She’s become such a student of the game and she has become so adept at knowing how to pick her spots when to attack and when to defer and get others involved,” Seward said.
The Hawks are back in action Dec. 8 when they take on Catskill Cup rival SUNY Oneonta.