Courtesy of New Paltz Sports Information Department
New Paltz, NY – The State University of New York at New Paltz women's basketball team dominated on the boards and locked down defensively, which led to a convincing 65-36 win against Rutgers University-Newark in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday in the Hawk Center.
"I thought for the most part we made them take the shots that we wanted them to take and put ourselves in a nice position, because of what we did defensively," said Hawks coach Jamie Seward. "I also want to comment on what a great night it was to be able to host an NCAA Tournament game for the first time and see all the alums we had come back. It was a really nice scene that was created by these guys and what they've done all year and what they've accomplished to put themselves in a position to create an environment and setting like that."
SUNY New Paltz (24-4 overall) got out to a hot start, opening the first quarter with a 13-0 lead. The Scarlet Raiders (16-13) missed their first eight shots, including four attempts at the foul line to go scoreless in the opening 10 minutes.
From there, the Hawks quickly established a large cushion. Nicole Ziogas knocked down a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 15 early in the second quarter, and although SUNY New Paltz started cooling off from the field, its command on the glass kept the team out in front.
Philesha Teape was the catalyst on the boards, ripping down a career-high 17 rebounds in the game. Rachel Simon followed with 11 boards, eight of which came in the first half.
"That's one thing that we really emphasized, securing the ball. You can't score unless you have the ball, you got to get defensive stops, can't let them get to the glass like that and it starts with rebounding," Simon said. "I thought we did a great job on the glass and that is definitely a big part of why we played so well tonight, definitely."
The Hawks took a 28-10 lead into the half, holding Rutgers-Newark to just four made baskets on 17 percent shooting from the floor, while winning the battle on the glass, 29-12. SUNY New Paltz started the second half on an 8-0 run, capped off by a bucket in the paint by Marion Dietz.
Dietz finished with a game-high 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the field, while adding four rebounds and two assists. Dietz earned most of her points in the lane, taking advantage of the mismatch inside.
"Most of the time they had a smaller guard on me, so I just went inside and we ran [the offense] through the post, and I just found myself under the basket a lot and that's where I scored most my points," Dietz said. "We had talked about if [Comfort Akinbo] wasn't in the game especially, we could go inside, so we did talk about that and that was a part of the game plan."
The Hawks' lead ballooned to as many as 33 with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. They rolled to a 29-point victory, while getting good production from their bench, which added 25 points in the game.
Following Dietz offensively was Simon, who added 12 points and 11 rebounds to register her second double-double on the year. Taylor Howell chipped in with nine points in 13 minutes, while Teape finished with six points to go along with her 17 rebounds – six of which came on the offensive glass.
"I thought we held [Simon] and [Lindsay Bettke] pretty good, but we let other people go off," said Scarlett Raiders coach Ashley Cieplicki. "But right now you're playing the best of the best and there are only 64 teams in the country, so you know you are going to play a great team. If you don't come as great as them that day then you'll be the one that goes home. But again, I thought our effort was there and it has been an unbelievable year for us. I think we're OK today."
Rutgers-Newark was held without a player in double-figure points, as Dorian Capurso led the team with eight points on 3-for-9 shooting. New Jersey Athletic Conference Player of the Year Faith Ashby followed with six points and five rebounds, along with Hannah Ashby, who finished with six points in 27 minutes.
"It was just a really nice defensive performance," Seward said. "Marion did a really nice job on [Faith Ashby]. She is a really good player and she made her work. Everybody else did their job in help and putting multiple bodies in her path at most times, so nice defensive performance."
The Hawks advance to the second round Saturday, as they take on Emmanuel College, which defeated Harwick College in a tight game, 69-65 in the Hawk Center. SUNY New Paltz is set to tip-off against the Saints at 6 p.m. in the Hawk Center.
To watch the game live, click here and to follow along with live stats, click here, and for everything #NPHawks be sure to follow us on Twitter at @nphawks,Instagram and Facebook at @newpaltzhawks, and subscribe to our Youtube channel, New Paltz Hawks.