Courtesy of New Paltz Sports Information Department
Brunswick, ME — After an incredible season, which saw the State University of New York at New Paltz women's basketball team win its fourth conference championship and earn its second trip to the NCAA Sweet 16, the Hawks 2018-19 campaign came to an end Friday against a tough Bowdoin College team at Morrell Gymnasium.
The No. 22 nationally ranked Hawks (25-5 overall) struggled on the glass and had a hard time getting their shots to fall around the basket, allowing the No. 2 Polar Bears (29-1) to gain traction on a large lead to eventually come away with a 81-50 win on their home court.
"We have to give credit to Bowdoin. They are clearly a tremendous basketball team and they certainly played that way tonight," said SUNY New Paltz coach Jamie Seward. "There were some things that I feel like I didn't do a great job preparing these guys. I never felt quite comfortable with a couple things of how we were going to attack a couple things. Not to take away anything from Bowdoin or the game that they played, but I felt like I didn't do a great job of helping these guys enough. I feel bad about that, but hats off to Bowdoin. They are a great team."
Although the Hawks played tough defensively, forcing Bowdoin into long offensive sets, the Polar Bears continued earning second and third chance opportunities due to their prowess on the boards. They owned a 22-15 advantage on the glass over SUNY New Paltz in the first half and ultimately won the battle, 56-34, in the game.
"I didn't see what the final numbers were in the paint, but I know they beat us up bad on the glass and they beat us up bad inside," Seward said. "We had some good looks inside on some shots that we were finishable around the rim, and maybe we were a little bit intimidated going up, but I think that was a bigger deal, because the 3-point shots they can come and go. You can get hot and sometimes you just struggle and you got to be able to balance that off and finish inside and get to the free throw line, and we weren't able to do those things."
After Marion Dietz gave the Hawks their opening points at the 8 minute, 41 second-mark of the first quarter, Bowdoin went on a 12-0 run to take a 14-2 advantage. Lindsay Bettkehelped put an end to the streak with two 3-pointers in the period.
SUNY New Paltz had opportunities driving to the basket, but couldn't find the bottom of the hoop. It shot just 32.3 percent from the floor in the first half, but knocked down 5-11 from beyond the perimeter to keep in striking distance.
However, the Hawks suffered a blow after Bettke rolled her ankle on an assist to Simon midway through the second quarter. Bettke gutted out the injury and came back in the second half, but her mobility was limited.
"If I recall correctly, I made the play. I jumped in the air to make a pass and I came down on I think [Samantha Roy's] foot unfortunately," Bettke said. "I heard a couple pops in the ankle. I tried to tape it up and tried to give as much as I could, but it was just not playing in my favor today unfortunately. Sitting the bench, I knew my team would go out there and give it their all. They did and they put up a fight. Like coach said, Bowdoin is a very good program. We knew that going into the game, but it just wasn't our day."
Despite losing Bettke for the rest of the first half, SUNY New Paltz ended the second period strong and cut the deficit, 33-27 at the break.
The Hawks kept the game close, trailing only by seven with about seven minutes left in the third quarter. However, after a few misses underneath the basket for SUNY New Paltz, the Polar Bears started piling on from the perimeter and quickly built a 20-point cushion in the matter of three and a half minutes thanks to a 13-0 run.
"I thought we had two real good looks to start the half that didn't go and maybe that changes things, but at the end of the day they just beat us up inside on the glass and in the paint," Seward said. "Regardless of that, I think the result was going to be fairly similar maybe. We would have hung around a little bit longer, but credit to them. They are very aggressive and very physical inside and took it to us there."
Bowdoin held all the momentum heading into the fourth quarter, while the Hawks' struggles continued on the offensive end. They sank just nine shots in the final 20 minutes and knocked down 0-12 from 3-point range to stall any type of fourth quarter comeback.
"I thought we had some good looks and I think they contested some shots pretty well and probably led us to rushing some things a little bit when we did have some space to take our time and get a good shot off," said Seward. "…. But that is the nature of shooting, sometimes you get hot and make a few in a row and sometimes you struggle a little bit. We didn't do enough around the basket and missed too many in the paint. I thought that was more so the difference."
Dietz led the Hawks with 13 points and three steals, while playing all 40 minutes. Simon followed with 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds — four of which came on the offensive glass, while Bettke added nine points, all coming in the first half.
"From the start, we were so excited coming into this game. Just to be here, we are tremendously grateful," Simon said. "Games are so back-and-forth. One team has a run and the other team has a run… It feels good to get a couple points, but at the end of the day we lost and I am heartbroken. I am so grateful for these girls and Bowdoin, like coach said, played a tremendous game and hats off to them, but I just want to thank the girls from the bottom of my heart and the coaching staff. I am just so grateful for this team."
SUNY New Paltz's 21-game winning streak came to an end with the loss, suffering its first defeat in 2019. The Hawks graduate Simon, Bettke and senior Taylor Howell, with the latter finishing their careers as the two winningest players in program history, while the former will leave as one of the most prolific shooters to suit up for the Hawks.
"This season has truly been amazing," Howell said. "Something different out of my four years, I've never had a team like this. These girls work so hard every single day, in and out of practice. It was just a great team to be a part of."
To stay up to date with 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.