Hawks Struggle Defensively Against Fredonia

By Monica D’Ippolito
NEW PALTZ – The State University of New York at New Paltz struggled limiting visiting Fredonia State in the second half Saturday and saw its early 16-point lead disappear after allowing the Blue Devils 50 points in the final 20 minutes, which ultimately resulted in a 86-72 loss.

“We just didn’t really defend well in the second half,” said Hawks coach Keith Kenney. “Fredonia, their strength this year is dribble penetration and we just couldn’t stop it whether it was zone or man defense. We gave up 50 points in the second half — we just didn’t execute our defensive game plan. Obviously, they scored 50 in the half that really hurt.”

SUNY New Paltz (5-11 overall, 1-8 SUNYAC) came off a solid win over Buffalo State the night before and took that energy into the start of its matchup Saturday. After Tristan Wissemann netted the first points of the game, the Hawks proceeded on a 14-0 run where they knocked down six-straight 3-pointers with Wissemann, RJ Meyers-Turner and Jake Passaretti all getting in on the action.

Fredonia’s Moussa Samassa broke up the scoring drought for the visitors around the 16-minute mark of the half, but SUNY New Paltz answered with back-to-back 3’s by Passaretti and Meyers-Turner to bring the Hawks cushion to 16.

SUNY New Paltz held a 12-point advantage with about nine minutes to go before the break, but the Blue Devils answered with a pair of treys of their own to bring the score back down to six. They finally tied the game at 34 after a bucket in the paint by Dydy Bryan and then gained their first lead once Tyler Roberts connected on his attempt on the next possession.

The Hawks snatched back the advantage by the end of the half, ending the opening 20 minutes on an 8-0 run facilitated with a pair of made free throws from Wissemann and Rylan Blondo off the bench. Blondo drained SUNY New Paltz’s seventh 3-pointer of the half in the final 10 seconds to give his team an eight-point cushion at the break.

The Hawks couldn’t keep the same shooting touch from the perimeter in the second half and after sinking 7-for-11 from 3-point range in the first, they made just 3-for-14 in the second. In turn, Fredonia connected on 2-for-3 from distance and made 72 percent from the floor on 18-of-25 shooting from the floor, while also adding 12 points from the foul line. The Blue Devils ultimately finished more than half of their points in the paint (44), as they took advantage of their penetration inside with Samassa leading the charge.

The score was tied twice with five lead changes in the first eight minutes of the second half, but after a made free throw by Wissemann at around the 12-minute mark, SUNY New Paltz went scoreless for a three-minute stretch that allowed Fredonia to build a hefty advantage.

The Hawks missed nine-straight in the span, while the Blue Devils went on a 11-0 run to gain a 13-point lead before Meyers-Turner broke up the stretch with a made shot from the perimeter. SUNY New Paltz couldn’t re-gain momentum however and saw the deficit grow to 17 with about three minutes left. Scott Reisert, Wissemann and Passaretti helped the team get points at the line, but the Hawks couldn’t get stops on the defensive end to instigate a rally.

Four of five starters for the Blue Devils ended in double-figure points with Samassa and Roberts leading the way with 20 points apiece, while the former also pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds.

Four of five starters for SUNY New Paltz also finished in double-figures with Passaretti leading the way with 18 points, six assists, three rebounds and two steals. Reisert was a rebound shy of his second-straight double-double, finishing with 11 points and nine rebounds.

The loss drops the Hawks back to last in the conference standings, but they will have a full week to prepare for their next matchup when they host SUNY Oneonta next Saturday. The Red Dragons are currently tied in first atop the league standings.

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