By Brian Savard
NEW PALTZ – A strong showing in the second half helped the SUNY New Paltz men’s basketball team (9-13, 7-8 SUNYAC) edge Buffalo State (12-8, 7-7), 86-81, on Friday afternoon in SUNYAC action at the Hawk Center.
Both teams struggled from the floor. New Paltz shot 39.2 percent (29-of-74), while Buffalo State was 37.0 percent (30-of-81) from the field. The three ball eluded both teams, too, with the Bengals shooting 19.2 percent (5-of-26) from distance and the Hawks shooting 10.0 percent (2-of-20) from long range.
The Bengals led by as many as 10 in the first half - and took a 41-37 lead into the halftime intermission - but New Paltz came charging back in the second stanza. A made free-throw shot by senior forward Matt Devine knotted the score at 55-all at 13:47. Buffalo State took the lead once more for a few minutes, but the tide turned in favor of the Hawks after junior guard/forward Taylor Sowah converted on an old-fashioned three-point play, drawing the foul on a dunk and knocking down the continuation free throw.
The two teams traded points until back-to-back dunks by senior guard/forward Shereef Taylor gave the Hawks a five-point edge. Seth Runge knocked down a pair of free throws for Buffalo State to pull within three, but a 6-0 New Paltz run gave the Hawks the momentum and forced a Bengal timeout. Buffalo State countered with a 5-0 scoring spree, but it was unable to get closer than four points down the stretch.
Taylor notched his fifth double-double of the season with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Devine chipped in 20 points due in large part to his 11-of-16 showing at the free-throw line. Junior guard Andrew Joseph drained a career-high 16 points coming off the bench, while freshman forward Kevin Roach added 11. Freshman forward Deveino McRae was a force in the paint, pulling down a game-high 16 boards.
Buffalo State’s Jake Simmons scored a game-high 31 points. Roderick Epps and Ryan Carney had double figures with 15 and 10 points, respectively.