By Amy Whitman
NEW PALTZ – In their home opener and first game of the season, the State University of New York at New Paltz defeated the Union Garnet Chargers in a runaway fashion, 82-61 Saturday.
The Hawks took control of the game from tip-off, opening with a 12-0 lead for the first five minutes of play, and not letting up for the rest of the quarter. A layup by Jenny Walton and one from Abby Korzekwinski gave SUNY New Paltz its biggest lead of the quarter, up on the Garnet Chargers 22-3. Union was able to net two more baskets, ending the quarter with a score of 22-8.
“It’s good to get back out there…you don’t know what to expect for the first game,” said SUNY New Paltz coach Jamie Seward. “It was good to see us come out and get off to a good start. A huge part of our success last year was getting off to strong starts.”
SUNY New Paltz kept its lead during the second, despite Union’s best efforts to chip away at the large deficit. The Hawks couldn’t retaliate against the Garnet Chargers’ seven-point run until Korzekwinski was able to lay one in, making the score 24-15. Morgan Hammell drained a three in the final two minutes of the quarter, and the buzzer sounded for halftime with the scoreboard reading 37-24.
The Hawks began to heat up going into the second half, producing more offense and getting points up from second-chance opportunities, and the hosts ended the game with 18 total second-chance points. SUNY New Paltz sank six free throws in the third quarter, attributing to their impressive 85.7 percent free throw percentage. Brianna Fitzgerald closed the third with a layup, giving the Hawks a 57-38 lead going into the final quarter.
“I thought we had a little lull in the second quarter,” said Seward. “But they came out pretty strong in the second half and most importantly we finished the third quarter really strong.”
Hammell opened the fourth with a layup within the first 10 seconds of play. Three minutes into the quarter, Union was looking to make a run, putting up six uninterrupted points until Madison Mullman sank a 3-pointer, her third of four total for the game. Semaiah Williams then followed with a put-back, extending the Hawks lead to 69-49. With five minutes left in the game, SUNY New Paltz was playing with a comfortable lead. Hannah Vanderzee added a contested two points, followed by two free throws from Julia Sabatino. For the remainder of the game the Hawks scored points periodically, but ended the game with an impressive 82-61 lead, an over 20-point differential.
SUNY New Paltz came out in its home opener with impressive stats, and standout players took control of the floor. “Sabs had a really good performance,” said Seward. “[She had] a ton of energy and played with a lot of pace, and did some smart things as well.”
Sabatino contributed seven points to the score, and dished out six assists. Mullman led the offensive charge with 15 total points, followed by Fitzgerald who totaled 13 and brought in three rebounds. Hammell and Williams both earned 10 rebounds, while scoring 11 and eight points, respectively.