By Monica D’Ippolito
NEW PALTZ — The State University of New York at New Paltz lost its first SUNYAC contest of the season Saturday, 84-59 to visiting SUNY Oneonta in the Hawk Center.
The Hawks (7-5 overall, 5-1 SUNYAC) won the opening matchup against the Red Dragons in late November, backed by a 32-point performance by Rylan Blondo and a 54 percent shooting bump on the day. But in the second go-around Saturday, SUNY New Paltz struggled to get going offensively and had its lowest scoring output of the season while shooting less than 40 percent from the field.
The first half saw 11 different lead changes with the score tied five times. A 3-ball by Isaiah Bien-Aise on a kick-out by Blondo gave the Hawks a 17-15 advantage with 11 minutes to go in the half. After Oneonta answered with a basket to tie, Jonah Bevacqua hit on a turnaround jumper on the opposite end to push the hosts back up. The last lead of the game came with 7:42 to go on a steal by Solomon Neuhaus that allowed Brandon Scott to get out in transition where he finished with an emphatic dunk to push the score to 21-20.
However, the lead was erased on a pair of made free throws by the Red Dragons’ Caleb Brown with Oneonta ending the half on a 20-11 run to take a nine-point advantage at the break.
SUNY New Paltz struggled in the second half and quickly got into a double-digit deficit two minutes in following a 10-0 run in the opening four minutes. It cut the score down to 10 midway through the period on a bucket in the paint by Bevacqua off a feed from Blondo, but the Red Dragons went on a 12-0 stretch in the following six minutes that all but closed the game.
The Hawks shot just 30 percent from the floor in the final 20 minutes and were out-rebounded 47-16 in the game for its worst rebounding performance of the season, as they went into the game averaging more than 35 per contest.
Frazier led the team with 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting in 18 minutes, adding five rebounds and a block. Scott was the only other Hawk in double-figure points, posting 10 points in 25 minutes with a steal on 3-for-5 shooting from the field, including 2-for-4 from behind the arc. Blondo led his team with five assists to go along with seven points and a rebound.
The loss places the Hawks in fifth on the conference leaderboard with Oswego, Brockport, Oneonta and SUNY New Paltz all with one SUNYAC loss while Cortland is the lone undefeated at the top of the standings.
SUNY New Paltz has another pivotal SUNYAC weekend matchup coming up, as it next heads to Western New York to face the Golden Eagles and the Knights of Geneseo Jan. 13 and Jan. 14, respectively.