By Monica D’Ippolito
NEW PALTZ — The State University of New York at New Paltz dropped just its second game of the season and first SUNYAC matchup, falling to visiting Oneonta in a tight game, 58-51 Saturday in the Hawk Center.
The Hawks struggled offensively in the opening 15 minutes, turning the ball over 10 times while hitting just 2-for-12 form the field. They saw their biggest deficit at 10 mid-way through the first but started working their way back down the stretch and following a timeout by coach Keith Kenney, SUNY New Paltz got a spark from their bench. Alex Krupinski came in and gave the team solid minutes, getting to the hoop and adding two from the foul line to get the difference down to single digits.
Both teams went scoreless for nearly four minutes until Rylan Blondo broke the drought, hitting in the paint and cutting the score to 15-9 with six minutes left. Kobe Bogart then drained a 3-pointer a minute later to get SUNY New Paltz within three. The Red Dragons answered next time down the floor, but A.J. Knight drove through the lane and earned a trip to the charity stripe, adding two more for the Hawks.
SUNY New Paltz took advantage following a turnover on the ensuing possession, as RJ Meyers-Turner hit a big shot in the corner to knot the score at 17 with about three minutes to go. Knight picked up a steal on the defensive end with the Hawks going back to Meyers-Turner above the perimeter. His attempt was just off the mark, but Knight was there to pick up the rebound before connecting on a pull-up jumper to give his team their first lead of the day. The Red Dragons tied the game at 19, but Tyreik Frazier hit in the paint to push SUNY New Paltz ahead, 21-19 at the half.
The Hawks ballooned their lead to 10 early in the second half following a driving layup by Sean St. Lucia, but Oneonta slowly chiseled down the deficit and tied the score again at 39-all following a triple by Xavier Hill with about nine minutes to go. Krupinski stepped up again though and re-upped the advantage with a made free throw, then added a make in the lane to push the score to 42-39.
Oneonta stayed around and finally re-took the advantage after a made 3 by Elijah Morris with about five minutes left. Bogart picked up an offensive board and got the strong put-back to go, cutting the difference to one at 49-48 with two minutes remaining, but SUNY New Paltz couldn’t knock down the go-ahead basket down the stretch.
St. Lucia was called for a travel on a controversial call in the paint, looking as though his pivot foot did not move on a spin and finish underneath the hoop, but all for not, the Red Dragons took advantage of the turnover and capitalized on the other end for a four-point swing as Elijah Castillo hit on a pull-up jumper to create a five-point lead with about 70 seconds left.
The Hawks still had a chance to pull off the rally. With 25.5 seconds left Knight swished on a 3-pointer to get the score within four, leading to a timeout by Kenney. Out of the timeout, SUNY New Paltz went into a full court press and the pressure got to the Red Dragons as they threw the ball away in the back court, giving the Hawks an opportunity to create a one-possession game. They worked the ball around and found an open Krupinski at the top of the arc. He pulled up for the trey and his shot was halfway down before rimming out with Oneonta picking up the rebound, forcing SUNY New Paltz to intentionally foul. The Red Dragons then iced the game in the waning seconds at the foul line to solidify the 58-57 outcome.
Both teams struggled shooting the ball Saturday with the Hawks hitting 38 percent and Oneonta connecting on 32 percent. Knight led SUNY New Paltz with 11 points on 4-for-9 shooting with two rebounds, an assist and a team-leading four steals. Bogart followed with 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals.