Hawks Lock Up First Round After Potsdam Win

By Monica D’Ippolito

NEW PALTZ – The State University of New York at New Paltz locked up a first round bye in the SUNYAC Tournament Saturday after defeating visiting Potsdam a 69-56 in the Hawk Center.

The win also marked the Hawks’ 10th at home, as the team solidified an undefeated record on their home floor for the first time in program history, while the two-time defending SUNYAC Champions aslo secured a spot in the conference semifinals for the seventh-straight season.

“We certainly have had some issues on the road that we haven’t had as much of at home, which I think speaks to being a young and inexperienced team. But, as I said to them, anytime you can do something that has never been done before, you have to be proud of it,” said SUNY New Paltz coach Jamie Seward. “It was a little bit of a shortened home season, but we won every single one of those games regardless of how many it was and I think that’s something to be proud of when we look back on the season, but hopefully we have some more things to accomplish and be proud of when it’s all said and done.”

The last time the Hawks faced the Bears was back on Dec. 3 with SUNY New Paltz struggling against Potsdam’s zone defense and shot 36.2 percent and were forced into 19 turnovers in the loss. The hosts were prepared Saturday in their regular season finale, determined to knot up the series with playoff seeding on the line.

SUNY New Paltz got out to a 17-12 lead after the first quarter and only trailed in the opening minutes of the game following a 3 by Potsdam’s Dyamon Hunter. The Hawks countered with seven unanswered points with Cassidy Deaver capping the run on a made corner 3 off a kick-out inside by Victoria Venus.

The Bears trimmed the difference to one early in the second, but SUNY New Paltz responded with a triple by Jenny Walton and then Lexi Van Vorst two possessions later with Maddie Gillis adding two more after an offensive rebound by Fitzgerald. Van Vorst hit another from behind the arc to push the cushion to nine with 3:15 left in the game, the largest margin of the half for the Hawks. The Bears earned two back to cut the score 30-23 at halftime.

Potsdam got as close as five with about seven minutes to play in the third, but SUNY New Paltz started opening the game up toward the end of the period and were carried by its stifling defense. In the final six minutes of the third, the Hawks allowed the Bears just two made baskets and forced them into three turnovers, while on the offensive end, the hosts continued to break through Potsdam’s zone to earn good looks inside and on the perimeter.

Abby Korzekwinski utilized her size inside and on back-to-back trips earned two shots from the charity stripe – where she hit on both – and earned two more in the paint to boost her team’s lead to 10. Following a steal by Deaver on a strong halfcourt defensive stand by SUNY New Paltz, Korzekwinski was the benefactor, finishing in transition on an assist by Graci Serravillo pushing in transition.

Fitzgerald then extended the lead to 11 after making 1-of-2 from the foul line next time down the floor and another solid possession defensively led to a steal by Korzekwinski who ran the floor again and finished to push the lead to 13 with about 70 seconds to play.

Although the Bears got within 11 entering the third, SUNY New Paltz clamped down in the fourth and never relinquished its double-digit cushion. Van Vorst and Walton gave the Hawks their largest lead of the game at 16 after burying a pair of 3’s with about 5:30 and 4:45 to play, respectively.

Potsdam started intentionally fouling with just more than a minute left and SUNY New Paltz iced the game at the line, making 4-for-6 in the final minute. The team ultimately finished 15-for-24 from the charity stripe.

The Hawks had four players finish in double-figure points, including Korzekwinski off the bench. The sophomore ended Friday night with a career-high 21 points and answered with 12 points, six rebounds, one assist and a steal in 19 minutes off the bench. Fitzgerald led the way with 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists, a block and a steal, while Van Vorst and Serravillo each registered 11 points. Serravillo added seven rebounds and two steals, while Van Vorst chipped in with two rebounds, three stelas and a block.

SUNY New Paltz finishes the regular season 18-6 overall and 14-4 in the SUNYAC and heads to SUNY Cortland for its semifinal match.

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