Hawks Secure No. 2 Seed in SUNYAC Tournament

By Monica D’Ippolito

POTSDAM — The State University of New York at New Paltz secured the No. 2 seed in the SUNYAC Tournament and a first-round bye after clinching an 87-80 win on the road over Potsdam Saturday to conclude its regular season schedule.

The Hawks end their regular season run at 18-7, which matches the most wins in program history, tying the 1998-99 team, while finishing 12-6 in the SUNYAC, setting the new record for most wins in the conference surpassing 11 which was done during the ‘98-99 season and by the 2021-22 squad.

SUNY New Paltz regrouped after losing two straight heading into the matchup against the Bears. It took a 47-41 lead into halftime and after four ties to start the second, flexed a nine-point cushion midway through half. Potsdam got within two twice down the stretch, but the Hawks kept them at bay, answering with their ability to get to the hoop.

Sean St. Lucia created a seven-point cushion with five minutes to go, finishing on a feed by Dakoda Smith. The Bears brought the difference to three, but A.J. Knight countered with a make in the paint as he capitalized on an offensive rebound by Alex Krupinski. Potsdam got within three with three minutes left, but SUNY New Paltz came up with enough stops to then extend the lead back to five following a layup by Rylan Blondo, assisted by Krupinski.

The Bears got to the foul line next time down the floor but made just 1-of-2 with Smith then answering with a trip to the foul line. Smith sank both and pushed the lead to 84-78 with just less than a minute to go.

The Bears got to the hoop on the ensuing possession to create a four-point difference before calling a timeout with about 44 seconds left. St. Lucia got to the foul line and made both attempts. SUNY New Paltz defended the perimeter well and forced an errant attempt by the Bears with Knight picking up the rebound before getting fouled. Knight made 1-of-2 to push the score to 87-80 with 30 seconds left.

The Bears found a look from the arc in the waning seconds, but Smith got up for the block to deny any chance of a comeback with SUNY New Paltz closing out on the seven-point victory.

St. Lucia tied a career-high 21 points, hitting 8-for-15 from the field from 32 minutes with six rebounds and three assists. Kobe Bogart followed with 13 points, four rebounds, an assist and a steal. Knight and Krupinski each totaled 12 points, while Blondo rounded out the scoring for the Hawks with 10 points, four rebounds and two assists.

SUNY New Paltz will enjoy a first-round bye after securing its highest standing in the program’s history in the SUNYAC Tournament. It will then head to top-seeded SUNY Oswego for a semifinal game Feb. 23, playing the winner of the No. 4 seed Oneonta and No. 3 Brockport quarterfinal.

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