By Skyler Cain
NEW PALTZ – The State University of New York at New Paltz hosted SUNY Plattsburgh for a SUNYAC conference match in the Hawk Center on Saturday afternoon, 107-85.
The Hawks (5-2 overall) entered the game coming off a three-game winning streak. On the other side, the Cardinals (3-5 overall) entered play after dropping their last two. The first half was fast paced with a lot of fast breaks and quick defensive possessions.
Sean St Lucia lifted the Hawks to a 15-9 lead in the first half as he scored six straight points before the Cardinals called their first timeout. The game tightened up and went back and forth until Brandon Scott and Isaiah Bien-Aise hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Hawks a 43-33 lead with 3:15 to play in the first half. The half closed with Plattsburgh at the free throw line after Williard Anderson JR hit a 3-point shot just before the buzzer, he could not convert the four-point play, leaving the score at 49-41.
‘No matter how much we’re up at halftime, we always stress we have to come out hard and be resilient and that’s kind of been the difference between our team last year and this year,” St. Lucia said. “We don’t really back down to adversity anymore and we’re doing a lot better job of keeping the lead that we’ve got.”
The second half was more back and forth through the first five minutes with Plattsburgh closing the distance after back-to-back 3’s from Justin Blanchett and Kevin Tabb cut the Hawks lead to four with just under 15 minutes left to play. It wasn’t long after that where SUNY New Paltz went on a run to put them up 73-59, causing Plattsburgh to call a timeout.
The pressure and fast pace continued as New Paltz extended their lead to the largest of the night, 22, with just four minutes to play.
The Hawks closed out the Cardinals and went on to win 107-85, improving their SUNYAC record to 3-0. As a team, SUNY New Paltz shot nearly 57 percent, second best all season, while setting a season-high in points scored and assists in the win with five different players hitting double-figure points on the night.
A lot of our points just came from the numbers we got,” St. Lucia said. “Our coach always just stresses that we have strength in numbers and we have 15 guys who can come in and contribute anytime in the game and that’s kind of what it was. We had a huge contributions from RJ [Meyers-Turner], Brandon [Scott], Dakoda [Smith], Jonah [Bevacqua] off the bench that’s what we’re strong at.”
St. Lucia led the way, matching a career-high 21 points, while adding eight assists and seven rebounds. Bien-Aise followed with 15 points to go along with his team high nine rebounds. Rylan Blondo had another solid night providing 16 points, four rebounds and two assists. Brandon Scott also turned in 17 points to match a career-high, while adding five rebound and two assists. For The Cardinals, Kevin Tabb led the way with 24 points and teammate Franklin Infante finished with 16 points and 6 rebounds.
“My confidence has been coming from my teammates and my coaches,” said St. Lucia who had his best game of the season thus far. “I started off the year pretty slow, but they never lose faith in me and my coaches always tell me how much they trust me and it means a lot to me.”
The Hawks look to continue their momentum when they travel to Fredonia and Buffalo State this weekend Dec. 9 and 10, respectively.