The College of Staten Island men’s basketball squad fought off a resilient Hunter College Hawks squad tonight, scoring an 88-82 win to record their program-best 20th-straight win at the Sports & Recreation Center as part of CUNYAC play.  The Dolphins, who already locked up the CUNYAC Regular Season title and the CUNYAC’s number one seed in the upcoming postseason tournament, improved to 21-2 overall and 14-0 in the CUNYAC, while the Hawks fell to 10-12, 6-8, respectively.

It would appear that tonight’s game was going right down to the wire, as the two teams battled throughout the night with a series of runs back-and-forth.  The result was eight ties and seven lead changes in the first half alone.  It was the Hawks that led for a sizable portion of the initial stanza.  Consecutive three-pointers by Brian Kruger and Frankie Drayton got the Hawks started to a 6-2 lead, and later, a Bryan Silvera bucket gave Hunter a 16-9 lead with 12:24 to go, as CSI started the first eight minutes shooting just 3-10 from the floor with five turnovers.

In what’s become a patented formula, the Dolphins did come back charging.  With 11:59 to go, junior Will Fonseca started an 11-4 run, leading to a Kevin King lay-up that knotted the game at 20-20 just three minutes later.  After a HC score, lay-ups by Fonseca and Bloochy Magloire, who made his first start of the season tonight, gave CSI their first lead, 24-22, with 7:21 to play.  From there, the game teetered back and forth, until Hunter got back in control, 32-31, with 3:36 left.  But the Hawks would go cold from there, connecting on just two more shots from there as CSI closed on an 11-3 run to end the frame.  A three-point play by Javon Cox and two more baskets by Magloire led the charge.

Unlike the first half, CSI was in control wire-to-wire in the second half, but not without a series of scares.  Another King layup got CSI their first double-digit lead at 46-36 early on, and later, another Fonseca inside drive gave CSI a 51-41 edge with 13:18.  To credit the Hawks, however, every time the Dolphins seemed poised to run away with the game, the visitors had an answer.  A 16-8 spurt by Hunter, capped by a Lester Amin three got the Hawks down by just two, 59-57, with 9:13 to play, but again CSI surged, as a 9-0 run, capped by a Magloire three got CSI back up, 72-61, with 5:54 to play.

Hunter had room for one more run, using two Kruger three’s to cut the lead to just five less than a minute later, but Magloire responded with a CSI three of his own to get CSI back in front by 10, and after yet another Magloire three gave CSI their biggest lead of the game, 80-68, with 3:17 left, Hunter could only cut the CSI lead to as few as six from there.  By that time, only a minute remained in the game, and the Dolphins, despite shooting just 50% from the stripe in that last minute, had enough to score four freebies en route to the 88-82 final.

Both teams hot the ball consistently, with CSI connecting on 48.3% next to Hunter’s 46.4% clip.  The Dolphins enjoyed a huge advantage from the free-throw line, as 26 Hunter fouls led to a 27-41 count for CSI from the free-throw line, next to Hunter’s 11-18.  CSI enjoyed a comfortable 43-34 cushion on the boards.

Magloire was crisp in his first start, dropping a season-high 29 points on 11-of-15 shooting (5-7 from three-point range), adding four rebounds.  Will Fonseca chimed in with a strong 20-point, 11-rebound effort off of the bench, while Javon Cox finalized with 15 markers.  Despite just three points, CSI’s Frankie Schettino dished a game-high 12 assists, good for a tie for 4th-place all-time in CSI single game history.  Schettino also tallied 12 assists on two other occasions this season, and his 155 total this season, see him become only the 9th CSI player in history to record 150+ in a single season.

Hunter was led by Brian Kruger’s 21 points, while Frankie Drayton ended with 20 points and seven assists.  Eric Kippins was the only other Hawk in double figures, finalizing with 14 points.

The 20-straight wins for the Dolphins are now the most in CSI single season history, toppling the former mark of 19 games set in 2011-12, a run that ended with a loss to MIT in the NCAA Division III Sweet Sixteen.

The Dolphins are back in action Thursday night, hosting City College of New York at the Sports & Recreation Center at 7pm.  The game is a make-up from a previously snowed-out contest originally scheduled on December 14.