Women’s Basketball crumbles against SUNY New Paltz, 81-77

BUFFALO, N.Y.- It was a proud moment for SUNY Buffalo State athletics Friday night as the senior athletes from both the Men’s and Women’s basketball teams were honored. The Buffalo State Men’s soccer team was also honored with the unveiling of an NCAA tournament banner for their accomplishments achieved in this past season.

However, with all the smiles and school pride in the air, SUNY New Paltz played the role of spoiler as they defeated the Bengals 81-77.

The Hawks of New Paltz used a strong third quarter outscoring the Bengals 27-13 to extend their lead to 15 heading into the fourth quarter.

“We got stagnant,” Buffalo State Women’s Basketball coach Kevin Clifford stated.

“They (New Paltz) were very physical so give them credit, they played smart defense without fouling and because of their physicality they got us uncomfortable and we turned the ball over too many times. In the first half we stayed with him, second half they made some shots and we missed some shots, but the turnovers definitely hurt us offensively.”

Coming out of the locker rooms to begin the second half, the Bengals only trailed New Paltz by a basket.

The game’s turning point came midway through the third quarter when New Paltz would use a 12-1 scoring run and extend their lead to 11 with just under three minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Junior guard Rachel Simon led the charge for the Hawks as she was able to total 21 points while also coming away with three rebounds, and three assists.

For Buffalo State, seniors Caleh McLean and Mariah Rosario put forth great efforts in the loss. McLean scored eight total points while collecting team-highs in both rebounds (seven) and assists (four). Rosario was able to chip in five points, four rebounds, and one assist.

Clifford praised both Rosario and McLean following the game.

“They have been great. Caleh is a four-year player and Maria (Rosario) was a transfer and a two-year player,” Clifford stated. “Both of them are leaders on the team. Mariah is so coachable and Caleh is very skilled. They showed leadership and hard work ethic while also keeping the team together. We are going to miss them.”

Rosario also gave her head coach and the Buffalo State program praise after the game.

“Coach Clifford was consistent, he always texted me and was always asking me how I was doing,” Rosario mentioned. “Other coaches do that but not to the extent that coach Clifford did. That helped make my decision to come here easy knowing that is how he coaches as well, always on you and pushing you to work hard. That was one of the main reasons why I came here.”

Going into the fourth quarter facing a 15-point deficit, Buffalo State would try to claw back into the game but were unable to control the highly efficient New Paltz offense as well as their physical defense. The Bengals struggled to get stops in the fourth quarter as the Hawks would outscore Buffalo State 24-18 in the final frame and saw the lead grow to as much as 26.

“We were trying to different things, five in and five out. We were trading baskets. When that happens coming back from 15 or 20 becomes very difficult,” Clifford stated.

Buffalo State (8-12 overall, 5-9 SUNYAC) will look to snap a three-game losing streak when they host SUNY Oneonta at the Buffalo State Sports Arena on Saturday.