By Monica D’Ippolito
NEW PALTZ – The State University of New York at New Paltz put an end to a three-game losing streak Tuesday after claiming a 67-61 win over visiting St. Joseph’s-Brooklyn in the Hawk Center.
The Hawks (3-4 overall, 0-2 conference) had their best defensive game of the season against the Bears (4-2, 0-1), who went into the outing averaging 75-plus points per game.
SUNY New Paltz held them to just 61 points on 31.8 percent shooting from the field, but also controlled the boards with seniors Tristan Wissemann and Scott Reisert leading the way.
“We needed it really bad,” Wissemann said of the win. “We had the momentum going the other way. It was going against us and we have a pretty long break until our next game, so it is good to have some momentum going our way with a little one-game winning streak going into our games in Florida.”
After St. Joseph’s-Brooklyn got out to an opening 7-2 lead, SUNY New Paltz got going with a 15-0 run to gain its first cushion, which it never relinquished the rest of the way. Reisert knocked down a corner 3 off a pass in transition by Jake Passaretti to tie the score at seven with Passaretti following with a trey of his own off an assist from Reisert. Passaretti then earned the ball back for his team, getting a steal and finishing an easy lay-in in the open court. Passaretti finished on another jumper before Reisert closed out the run with another 3-ball to boost the lead to 10 with 15 minutes to go in the half.
The Hawks extended their advantage to as many as 13 with less than three minutes remaining until the break with Richard Altenord also getting into the open floor after a steal. Wissemann cleaned up around the basket to secure the 13-point advantage.
The Hawks continued to battle on the defensive end, which helped them maintain control, but early fouls and careless turnovers kept St. Joseph’s-Brooklyn around in the second half.
“We have to focus on not fouling as much,” Wissemann said. “I think they were in the bonus by the 15th or 16th-minute mark in the second half. It was way too much. We have to clean that up and the offense will come, but I’m really happy with our defense today. We held them to 61 I believe, so that is a really good step in the right direction.”
The Bears cut the deficit to as close as six, but SUNY New Paltz made plays when it needed to. Nick Arthur went hard at the basket, took contact and earned the foul, while getting his basket to go to earn the traditional three-point play. Following the made free throw, he boosted the lead back to nine.
“I wasn’t worried, obviously we wanted to win, but we just haven’t played well so we wanted to put a game together where we actually played well,” said SUNY New Paltz coach Keith Kenney. “I think we did that.” SUNY New Paltz dominated on the glass, out-rebounding the opposition, 51-33 in the game and overcame a tough night in the turnover battle, succumbing to 20 turnover versus 13 for the Bears. Overall, the Hawks were carried by their defense, which registered a season-low in points allowed.