By David Spiegel
NEW PALTZ – Another second half surge gave the SUNY New Paltz women’s basketball team (21-2, 15-1 SUNYAC) the win over SUNY Fredonia (11-10, 6-9) by the score of 77-63 in a SUNYAC match-up Saturday evening at the Hawk Center. The win, along with a SUNY Geneseo loss to SUNY Plattsburgh, clinched the top seed in the 2013 SUNYAC Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament for the Hawks. Preceding the game was a ceremony honoring the team’s three seniors, guard Kahsyrah Bryant, guard Maliqua Fisher and forward Alex McCullough.
Five Hawks finished in double-figures in Saturday’s win, including Fisher, who led New Paltz with 18 points and 11 rebounds, earning Fisher her third double-double of the season. Junior guard Alyssa Gratien followed with 15 points, while freshman forward Michelle Valle netted 14 and grabbed seven rebounds.
McCullough had an impressive afternoon with 13 points, eight rebounds, three blocked shots and a career-high five steals. Junior forward Jeanette Scott also put in a solid effort with 11 points, seven boards and three steals.
Down 13 at the half, the Hawks flew out of the gate with a 14-0 run to open the second frame, taking a 41-40 lead. A similar 12-1 stretch gave the Hawks a 13-point lead with under 10 minutes to play. Fredonia got back to within six on a free throw by Becky Hebert with the clock reading 7:19, but a 9-0 run by the Hawks gave them their biggest lead at 15 points with 4:41 to go. The Hawks made most of their free throws down the final stretch to hold off the Blue Devils and take the 14-point victory.
Fredonia quickly put up 10 points before the Hawks could get on the board in the first half. The Blue Devils led by as many as 16 when Brittany LaForce drained a jumper at the 6:31 mark. The Hawks did not make a field goal and missed four free throws in the final three minutes of the half, going into the locker room with a 40-27 deficit.
Grace Moore scored a game-high 20 points for the Blue Devils, while Hebert and Jaimie Warren each added 15. Warren also pulled down six boards, dished out a game-high six assists and stole the ball a game-high six times.