New Paltz Bounces Back With Dominant 77-38 Win

By Monica D’Ippolito

PLATTSBURGH – The State University of New York at New Paltz overcame a disappointing defeat Friday night with a dominating victory over hosting Plattsburgh State Saturday, earning its largest margin of victory of the season in the 77-38 win.

After a tough loss against Potsdam less than 24 hours prior, Hawks coach Jamie Seward shuffled his lineup against the Cardinals Saturday with Semaiah Williams and Jenny Walton getting their first starts of the season. Williams was a major addition, as the junior was all over the glass and was a force in the paint on the defensive end as well. In the first half alone, the 6-foot, 1-inch forward registered 12 rebounds, seven of which on the offensive glass, including four first-half blocks to help hold Plattsburgh to just 19 points in the opening 20 minutes.

“We decided we had to try something different because it just wasn’t working,” Seward said. “It wasn’t just the loss last night. We really thought we’d have some better performances over the last several games, and we figured the loss was the impetus we needed to make a move. Jenny gives us more punch offensively and the best way for her to improve on the other end is with game experience. Semaiah has been practicing very well the last week or so, and I haven’t been able to get her the minutes she really has been earning, so that was the one move I definitely wanted to make.

Serravillo, getting her second start of the season, was also a factor early on, registering two charges to go along with a team-high five assists, three rebounds and 10 points in 29 minutes to aid in the victory.

“Graci was phenomenal. She played very well, but her presence on the court and the impact that presence made is hard to actually quantify,” Seward said. “Her leadership, her attitude, her voice, she’s quickly becoming one of if not our most important player.”

Serravillo helped tie the game at seven early, getting a steal and an easy transition bucket early in the first quarter. She then hit an and-1 on the next offensive possession — which came after Williams got up for another block on the defensive end. Although she couldn’t connect on the free throw, Williams was there to clean up with a put-back to give the Hawks their first lead of the game at 11-8. SUNY New Paltz maintained the advantage from then on with Madison Mullman ending the period with a 3-pointer to get the visitors in front, 18-13.

Seward called a timeout early in the quarter and out of the break, the Hawks seemed more energized, especially on the defensive end. The result was a dominating defensive effort that allowed only six second-quarter points for the Cardinals on two made baskets with eight turnovers. SUNY New Paltz registered six steals in the period with all of it culminating in a 19-point cushion at the break.

Van Vorst, who was the offensive catalyst on the day with her prowess from the perimeter against the Cardinals zone, scored the Hawks’ first six of eight points of the second half. After getting to the foul line for the second-consecutive possession, Van Vorst hit both to push the advantage to 26 while also surpassing a career-high point total. SUNY New Paltz piled on to flex a lead as large as 31 in the period before ending the quarter with a 60-31 advantage.

The Hawks held onto their large cushion in the fourth with Plattsburgh shooting 0-for-11 from the field in the final 10 minutes to ultimately finish with the 39-point victory and improving to 2-1 in SUNYAC play and 6-2 overall.

Williams ended with a career-day and placed herself in the Hawks single-game record books, finishing with six blocks and 16 rebounds — with the former tied for fourth most ever in program history. Van Vorst, meanwhile, finished with a career-high 22 points on 6-for-16 shooting from the field and 6-for-13 from 3-point range, while adding five rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block.

“[Williams] and I have talked about that. That she is the one player that when she really does figure it out, she will change the entire dynamic of our team and how we can play. She blocked six shots but changed another six or eight and rebounded just about everything in the first half,” Seward said. “… and Lexi had a great weekend, but not just shooting the ball. Lex has become a trusted defender and is becoming one of our best two-way players.”

SUNY New Paltz has a long two-week hiatus before it’s back on the floor competing in the Smith College Holiday Tournament Dec. 30 and Dec. 31. The Hawks then are back in conference action Jan. 7 as they are on the road against SUNY Geneseo.

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