The Rams women’s basketball team is headed back to the championship game after a convincing 69-55 win over SUNY-Old Westbury Thursday night at George E. Nold Hall.
Led by newcomer Baytania Newman’s 28 points, 12 rebounds and 7 steals, the Rams improved to 15-9 overall by beating Old Westbury in the semifinals of the Skyline Conference Tournament. Newman, a transfer student from Central Arizona Junior College, wasn’t even on the Rams roster until mid-January.
Rams Coach Chris Mooney considers it “a lucky break” that Farmingdale State was able to land a player of Newman’s ability. “She’s great,” Mooney said. “She gets to the basket so easily. And although it took her a little while to get adjusted to playing with us, she’s good enough that if we throw her out there, she’ll learn the system while she’s on the court.”
But as anyone who was in attendance for this game will tell you, this was a total team effort. Guards Nikita Green and Jeanette Zubizarreta pitched in with 12 points a piece, while forward Dominique Cunningham tallied 9 points and 13 boards.
After the game, Cunningham was overjoyed with the victory. “I’ve been here four years and this is my fourth trip to the finals," she said. "This is my last year here and I’m ready to make the unbelievable happen.”
The Rams set the pace of the game by opening with a 9-0 run. However, to Old Westbury’s credit, the Panthers fought back and at one point in the first half took a 20-19 lead.
Old Westbury (18-8) was led by DeAndra Scott (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Deslyn Applewhite (15 points, 9 rebounds).
But Farmingdale State quickly bounced back and went into the locker room with a 27-20 advantage. After Old Westbury opened the second half with five unanswered points, the Rams buckled down and never looked back.
Offensively, the Rams moved the ball efficiently and at will against their opponent. Defensively, they were tenacious; fighting for every rebound and diving for every loose ball.
The Rams’ final obstacle will come this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. as they travel to Newburgh, N.Y. to meet top-seeded Mount Saint Mary to determine who will be crowned this year’s Skyline Conference champion.
This marks the ninth straight trip to the title game for Farmingdale State, which last won in 2010.
Note: Reported by , a student journalist at Farmingdale State.