OSWEGO, NY — The State University of New York at New Paltz nearly pulled off arguably the biggest upset in program history Tuesday night, going up against No. 5 nationally ranked Oswego at Max Ziel Gymnasium.
The Hawks held a nine-point lead with just less than six minutes to go and re-took control with a minute left before Oswego forced overtime. SUNY New Paltz had a chance to win it in an extra time buzzer beater, but came up just short and instead, came away with an 84-83 defeat to the Lakers, undefeated in SUNYAC play.
Three-point shooting propelled the Hawks to stay out in front for most of the game after they took the lead at 30-28 thanks to a reverse layin by AJ Knight. SUNY New Paltz built off the momentum and got up by seven with about a minute left following a steal by Sean St. Lucia and finished by Rylan Blondo in transition before the Lakers trimmed the difference down to 38-33 at the break.
Oswego came out hot and went on a 9-0 run to start the second half to regain the advantage early, but St. Lucia and Kobe Bogart helped re-up the lead for their team after knocking down a straight-on trey off a ball screen before hitting in the lane on a floater, respectively, pushing the score to 45-44. Ethan St. Lucia had a hot game from the perimeter, and he piled onto the cushion with a 3-pointer off an assist from Blondo to create a three-point lead. Knight then hit from behind the arc on back-to-back possessions to keep SUNY New Paltz in front at 54-52 midway through the half.
The Hawks continued building momentum with their lethal perimeter shooting, as 3-balls by St. Lucia and Alex Krupinski gave them their biggest lead of the game at 69-60 with about six minutes left, forcing the Lakers into a timeout.
However, Jeremiah Sparks was the difference for Oswego as he kept his team alive down the stretch. Sparks knocked down a long-ranged, high-arching 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down to get his team within six out of the break and after a defensive stop, Sparks found Jamal Achille for two in the paint. The Lakers forced another stop as Sparks came down with the defensive board, leading to another Oswego basket on the other end to tighten the game to two with about four minutes left.
The Lakers started getting to the basket and earned tries at the foul line where it tied the score at 71-all with about 1:30 remaining. Knight came up with a bucket to answer, slashing to the hoop to grab back the lead for SUNY New Paltz. The two teams then traded turnovers with neither able to control the ball, but finally Oswego won possession and called a timeout with 42 seconds left down by two points at 73-71. Sparks once again came up clutch, as he got his basket to go with a tough finish at the hoop to knot the score with 24 seconds left.
The Hawks had a look out of a timeout, getting the ball into the hands of their leading scorer in Knight, but his shot was too strong off the rim with Oswego grabbing the rebound and calling a timeout with two seconds left. However, the game was destined to go into overtime tied at 73.
The Lakers got out in front in the opening minutes of extra time thanks to a triple made by Sparks and from there the teams traded baskets, but Oswego kept themselves in front. The Lakers led by as many as five with three minutes to go, but Sean St. Lucia stayed aggressive and earned a trip to the line to bring the score back to a one-possession game.
Sparks returned to the foul line and made 1-of-2 and Bogart countered with a trip to the line, sinking both attempts to cut the score to 81-79 with more than two minutes left. Oswego continued struggling at the charity stripe, as Kaleb Cook only made 1-of-2 at the line, allowing the Hawks to stick around. Krupinski then answered as he connected in the lane to get his team within one. A put-back by the Lakers re-established a three-point difference until Sean St. Lucia came back down the floor and hit an acrobatic finish at the hoop to get his team within one again at 84-83 with about 30 seconds remaining.
SUNY New Paltz allowed Oswego to bring the ball up the floor, opting not to foul but instead trusting its defense to get the job done and the decision paid off as the Hawks anchored down and forced a turnover in the halfcourt on a jump ball. They immediately called a timeout with 10 seconds left on the clock, down by one and a chance for a buzzer-beater.
Bringing the ball up the length of the floor, SUNY New Paltz found Krupinski who pulled up from 3-point range, but his attempt came up short. A scramble for the loose ball ensued with Bogart getting in the mix to force another jump ball with half a second left. However, the miracle ending was not forthcoming with the Lakers cleanly in-bounding and milking out the last half second to solidify the win.
The Hawks had balanced scoring on the night with five different players in double figures after shooting 12-for-26 from 3-point range (46.2%) and 29-for-62 from the field (46.8%).
Knight led the team with 20 points while adding four rebounds, four assists and two steals. Krupinski followed with 15 points off the bench with three rebounds and a steal. Ethan and Sean St. Lucia each finished with 14 points. Ethan added nine rebounds and an assist, while Sean registered three rebounds, four assists and two steals. Bogart finished with 11 points, two rebounds, an assist and a block.
Sparks was the game’s leading scorer, as he finished with 31 points on 12-for-20 shooting from the field in 43 minutes.
SUNY New Paltz dropped to 15-4 overall and 9-3 in the SUNYAC with the loss, ending what was a five-game winning streak. Despite the defeat, the Hawks still remain in second place in the conference standings only behind the first place Lakers.