Hawks Suffer First Loss of Season to Bard College

By Monica D’Ippolito

NEW PALTZ — The State University of New York at New Paltz closed out the Hudson Valley Tournament Saturday in its home opener against Bard College and suffered its first loss of the season after falling, 66-64.

The game came down to the wire, as the Hawks (3-1 overall) were in front for the majority of the second half after taking the lead midway through the first half. The Raptors (2-1) trailed for the entirety of the opening 19 minutes of the second period until a 3-pointer by Sean Wilcox tied the score at 64 and off a miss next time down the floor by SUNY New Paltz, they re-took the lead on a layup with less than a minute left.

In the final seconds, SUNY New Paltz had a good look to tie out of a timeout with the ball underneath its own basket. A.J. Knight got a shot up in the paint that was just off with Rylan Blondo coming up with the offensive rebound before putting up a fade-away last-second attempt at the buzzer that was just short to finalize the 66-64 outcome.

After shooting 40 percent from 3-point range in the first half, the Hawks struggled from the perimeter in the final 20 minutes making 3-of-15, while hitting just 32 percent from the floor.

The first half started the way of Bard as it went on an 8-0 run to take the lead with the Hawks struggling early to find their shooting touch. Sean St. Lucia fed Blondo on a back cut toward the basket to end the unanswered stretch four minutes in.

SUNY New Paltz got within one twice in the following four minutes until Knight knotted the score after knocking down a 3-ball off an offensive rebound and kickout by St. Lucia.

Knight officially re-took control for the Hawks after making plays on both ends of floor, going coast-to-coast for a steal and a fast break bucket to push his team ahead, 18-16 midway through the half forcing the Raptors into their first timeout. Bard tied the score on the ensuing possession after the break, but Tyreik Frazier turned momentum fully toward the Hawks as he subbed in and earned an and-1 off a put-back underneath off his own miss. The play instigated a 9-0 run for the next three minutes to help SUNY New Paltz establish a nine-point cushion.

The Raptors worked their way back in the last minutes before the break, but a 3-pointer by St. Lucia and a pair of made free throws by Kobe Bogart re-upped the nine-point difference down the stretch with the latter coming with less than a minute remaining. Bard had a key last bucket though before the buzzer sounded on the first 20 minutes of play, as SUNY New Paltz crashed in the paint, leaving a shooter open in the corner for 3 as the last second ticked down to trim its lead to 37-31 entering halftime.

The Hawks established a double figure advantage two minutes into the following period thanks to 10 points in the stretch by Blondo, but the Raptors crept around to stay within striking distance. St. Lucia buried a 3-pointer, capitalizing off a steal from his brother, Ethan St. Lucia, on the other end, but the made basket was the last SUNY New Paltz found the rest of the way as Bard countered with a 10-run in the final four minutes.

After a steal and a fastbreak layup with about two minutes left, Hawks coach Keith Kenney called a timeout, but the stoppage of play didn’t deter the Raptors momentum, as a block and a 3-pointer tied the score at 64 out of the timeout. SUNY New Paltz missed from the arc on its next offensive possession and with Bard securing the rebound it answered with a make in the paint to take the lead.

Lucas Seyoum had a look from 3 with 47 seconds left, but came up short, but the Hawks came up with another chance with less than 10 seconds left as Sean St. Lucia and Blondo did well to trap in the corner with St. Lucia picking up the steal and pushing ahead to Blondo running the floor. Blondo went up with contact with no call made, but Dakoda Smith came in trailing, raised up and got hit from behind on the rebound attempt with 7.2 ticks left.

Sean St. Lucia played the ball into Knight on the final play of the game and the Fredonia transfer did well to create space off the dribble and attacked the basket, going up with his right against contact, but his attempt hit off the rim and out. Blondo was there to rebound, but with time expiring he had to put up a last-second desperation attempt that grazed just off the front of the basket as time expired.

Blondo led all scorers with 20 points on 9-for-16 shooting from the field while finishing with team-highs in rebounds (7), assists (5) and steals (3). Knight followed offensively with 10 points with Sean St. Lucia adding nine points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Ethan St. Lucia finished with six rebounds, two blocks and three steals to go along with a make from 3-point range, while Frazier chipped in with seven points and three rebounds off the bench.

SUNY New Paltz returns to action Dec. 1 and 2 for its first SUNYAC action of the season, going on the road to face SUNY Geneseo and SUNY Brockport, respectively.

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