By Monica D’Ippolito
SCHENECTADY —The State University of New York at New Paltz went on the road to face Union College Friday at Viniar Athletic Center and walked away with a 50-37 win.
The Hawks improved to 9-3 overall, winning their sixth straight on a strong defensive performance that limited the Dutchmen to just 16 made baskets — including only four in the first half — on 29 percent shooting. SUNY New Paltz held its largest lead in the third quarter as Maddie Gillis gave her team a 14-point cushion with 5:31 to go on a made jumper in transition and again a minute later following a pair of made free throws
Union stemmed a rally late in the third quarter that bled into the fourth, cutting the Hawks lead to nine with four minutes still left to play. Following a made jumper off an out of bounds play, the Dutchmen trimmed the deficit to 43-36. Graci Serravillo, playing in front of a hometown crowd of friends and family, came up with a huge 3-pointer in the corner with less than two minutes left that created another 10-point advantage for her team and proved pivotal in stalling the Dutchemn rally. The Altamont, NY native ultimately finished with seven points, seven rebounds, two steals and an assist.
Union got within single digits two possessions later, but Brianna Fitzgerald answered with a bucket in the lane, cutting through two defenders and finishing in the paint to push the score to 48-37. She then stepped in for a charge on the other end, forcing a Dutchmen turnover with the offensive foul to help close the game out in the final minute.
Serravillo connected on two at the foul line in the final seconds to then cement the 50-37 result.
Fitzgerald was the catalyst in the win, filling the stat sheet as she led her team in points (16), rebounds (9), assists (4), steals (4) and blocks (3). Gillis produced 12 points and two steals off the bench to aid in the 13-point win.
SUNY New Paltz forced Union into 21 turnovers on 13 steals and converted 20 points off turnovers and 22 in the paint.
The Hawks return home January 7 as they resume SUNYAC play against rival SUNY Oneonta in the Hawk Center for a 2 p.m. contest.