The College of Staten Island men’s basketball squad took top CUNYAC Regular Season honors tonight, posting a gritty, 77-74, win over visiting Medgar Evers College at the Sports & Recreation Center. The win, which snapped a three-game CSI skid, lifted the Dolphins to 15-7 overall and 10-2 in CUNYAC while the Cougars fell to 12-11, 9-3, respectively. The two teams can still tie for the best record in CUNYAC (pending Friday’s results), but CSI secured the tiebreaker via head-to-head record, having taken both regular season meetings.
Despite securing the lead for most of the game and never trailing in the second half, the Cougars were in it till the very end, making a series of runs to put a number of scares into the Dolphins. MEC held the lead through the first 5+ minutes as a Jovan Deare three-point play gave the visitors an 11-8 edge, but CSI rifled back with a 10-2 run, highlighted by a Bloochy Magliore three-ball and inside drive for five straight points. CSI would never trail again.
Later, with the score 24-22 with 7:11 left, CSI ripped off another 10-2 run over the next five minutes to secure their first double-digit advantage, 34-24. A Jordan Young lay-in and four straight points by T.J. Tibbs secured that run. Tibbs landed another pair of freebies to end the half giving CSI its biggest lead at 36-25.
MEC would not go away, however, and used the opening minutes of the second frame to make a point of it. An emphatic dunk by Winston Douglas opened the stanza, and that started an 11-2 MEC run ending on another lay-up by Donnell Lazare to make it just 40-38 in CSI’s favor. But in what would be a recurring theme of the game, CSI fought back, this time via six straight points, the last four on a pair of Jordan Young lay-ups.
The two teams battled back-and-forth from there and the game reached a fever pitch when CSI took a big 55-46 lead with 10:02 to play capped by a Dale Taranto three. Medgar battled right back. Another Douglas dunk got the run started and MEC forced three-straight CSI turnovers and converged on easy lay-ups to make it a 55-54 game, prompting CSI to ask for time out.
The timeout worked, as CSI answered with a 7-0 run, spearheaded by sensational shooting by Tibbs, who buried a long range jumper and a three-point basket with hands in his face. CSI went up by 9 points again on three more occasions, until finally MEC used a 6-0 run to pull to within three, 71-68 with 1:23 to go. From there, the Cougars were going to force CSI to win from the free-throw line and the Dolphins were up to the task, sinking 6-of-7 from the stripe to ice the game.
Despite being out-done on the glass, 56-37, CSI shot a healthy 47.6% (30-63) while MEC shot an even 41% (34-83). The Dolphins were clutch at the charity stripe hitting 15-of-21 (71.4%) while MEC was just 7-of-20 (35%).
CSI returns home on Friday to face Brooklyn College at 5:30pm in their CUNYAC-finale. For CSI, it marks their first regular season championship and No. 1 seed in the upcoming CUNYAC Postseason Tournament for the first time since 2003-04.