POSTGAME INTERVIEWS – The College of Staten Island men’s basketball team completed their perfect run through CUNYAC competition with a come-from-behind CUNYAC Final Championship, defeating City College of New York by a 77-66 count at CCNY’s Nat Holman Gymnasium in New York. For the Dolphins it was their 14th CUNYAC title and their first since the 2012-13 season, and insured the 21-6 Dolphins a berth into the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament beginning next week.
The 11-point win certainly didn’t come easy, as the Dolphins found themselves down by a sizable chunk of the first half, ultimately trailing by w basket at the break. Before that the lead changed hands six times through the opening six minutes. A lay-up by Robbie Dionosio gave CCNY a modest 7-4 edge, but later, a lay-up by Kevon Murphy and a three by CSI’s Robert Rossiter gave CSI back the lead, 13-9. Consecutive three’s by Mark Richards and David Solano scored CCNY the lead again.
Khaleeq Baum added another inside power drive to give CSI a 19-18 lead with inside of 10 to play in the first half, but the Dolphins then hit a major bump in the road, turning the ball over an unprecedented six straight times over the next four minutes, and the Beavers used it to motor off a 10-0 run, giving them a 28-19 lead, prompting a CSI timeout. The Dolphins responded well from there, going on a 12-3 tear to force a 31-31 tie. Robert Rossiter added four points in the run and Edin Bracic connected on a pair before CCNY hit on free-throws by Mark Richards to end the first half, 35-33, in the Beavers‘ favor.
Much like the first stanza, the second followed a familiar script, as the teams traded shots and strong defensive play, flip-flopping the lead five times in the first seven minutes. Then CCNY had its cold turn from the floor, going 0-9 from the floor with two turnovers in a seven minute stretch, and the Dolphins took full advantage. Two Frank Schettino free-throws gave CSI a 46-44 lead, and then Murphy added three-straight lay-ups to balloon the lead. After another Beavers miss, Bracic canned a three, getting CSI up 55-44.
CCNY tried to paw into the lead, but the inside game proved too much as Baum then stepped in offensively, scoring three straight buckets of his own to expand CSI’s lead to a comfy 14-points with 7:13 left.
CSI would take another 14 point lead with 4:03 to go on a Schettino three, and from there, CCNY never got to within 9. CSI scored their last field goal with 1:34 left, going ahead by 12 before ultimately winning by the 77-66 count.
Baum led all scorers with 21 points and 11 rebounds and took the Tournament Most Valuable Player honor. Murphy added 20 points and 9 rebounds while Schettino added 11 points and six assists. Khalil Hamer and Mark Richards both topped CCNY with 16 points, with Richards besting the team with 9 rebounds.
For CSI the CUNYAC title was their 14th overall and the sixth for Head Coach Tony Petosa. It marked the third time the Dolphins finished a CUNYAC season undefeated during the regular season en route to a postseason championship (2012, 1989). It also marked the first time since 1983 that both CSI basketball teams took home CUNYAC Championships in the same year.
The Dolphins will now await the NCAA Selection Show webcast on Monday that will outline the tournament and who the Dolphins will play in the opening round of competition. More information will be released when the information becomes available.