The College of Staten Island men’s basketball team advanced to the ECAC Metro NY/NJ Postseason Tournament Championship this afternoon, sneaking by visiting Stevens Institute of Technology, 75-73, as part of semifinal play at the Sports & Recreation Center. The Dolphins will next play No. 6 Kean University tomorrow afternoon for the top honor, after Cougars defeated No. 2 Rutgers – Newark, 70-63. The Dolphins advanced to 27-3 overall, while the Ducks finalized their season at 18-10.
CSI led for a majority of the contest, but the Ducks stayed within striking distance, taking modest leads at several stops of the second half before a last second buzzer-beater failed, catapulting the Dolphins to what will be their first ECAC title game since 1998.
The Dolphins never surrendered the lead in the first 20 minutes, extending on a 7-0 run in the early stages to take an early, 11-4, advantage, aided by five-straight Frankie Schettino points, including a straightaway three pointer. Free-throws by Bloochy Magloire would put CSI up later, 21-12, after seven and half minutes gone by before CSI ultimately took their first double-digit lead, 30-20 on a Magloire three. But, in a recurring theme of the day, Stevens responded. A three-point play by Patrick Sabatino got the Ducks started and a three from Phillip DeSeignora pulled Stevens to within 30-28 with 4:02 to go in the stanza.
Layups by CSI’s Javon Cox and Magloire put CSI back up by 9, 39-30 with 1:49 to go, but again Stevens would close, using a 7-0 run to end the half and shed the lead to just two at the break, 39-37.
That run would continue into the second half. After trading baskets, a three-pointer by Andrew Meszaros gave the Ducks their first lead, 42-41, and from there it was anyone’s game. The lead changed hands 11 times over the next 14 minutes, with both teams powering inside for points, getting second chances via the free-throw line and at times, trading the long-ball.
In a key moment of the game, Stevens’ Meszaros connected on another jumper to give the Ducks a 65-63 lead, and even though CSI was able to respond quickly the Dolphins would then hit a funk, turning the ball over, missing two field goal attempts from down-low, committing a foul and missing the front end of a one-and-one opportunity all in a span of a minute, but the Ducks could not capitalize, and finally, off of an offensive rebound Magloire connected on a long-range two pointer while being fouled, and he completed the point-after to give CSI a 68-65 lead with 4:15 to go.
The Dolphins would never trail again.
After cutting the lead the one, Magloire connected on another jumper to give CSI back the three-point lead, and even after DeSeignora tied it with a three of his own, Will Fonseca converted on a fast-break lay-in to pull CSI back up again. Stevens then turned the ball over and CSI converted for points at 1:35, taking a 74-70 lead.
After a made free-throw for the Ducks, CSI seemingly had a chance to end the game, but a Magloire alley-oop dunk attempt rattled out of the rim and the Ducks converted the other way on a jumper from Matt Skrelja to make it 74-73 with just 22 seconds left. Stevens then fouled Cox with 13 seconds left and the junior split the free-throws giving CSI the 75-73 lead with 13 ticks to go.
Skrelja raced into the paint to try and score for the Ducks but his shot was blocked by CSI’s Jonathan Chadwick-Myers. Still, the ball went out of bounds and Stevens retained possession, and after nearly turning it over, Meszaros was able to get a long range three-pointer off before the buzzer, but his shot missed short at the horn, giving CSI the exhilarating win.
CSI finished shooting 43. %% from the field to Stevens’ 44.3%, both teams had 37 rebounds but the Dolphins forced 21 Stevens turnovers. Magloire led the way for CSI with 19 points, and now has 1,807 career points, 12 behind all-time leading scorer Michael Stewart in CSI career history. Cox was a force, collecting 17 points and 11 rebounds. CSI also got 15 points from Chadwick-Myers and 12 points and six assists from Schettino. Stevens was led by DeSeignora’s 17 points, followed by 16 from Sabatino and 14 from Meszaros.
The top- seeded Dolphins will now face Kean University in the ECAC Final on Sunday at 5:30pm at the Sports & Recreation Center. CSI’s last and only other title came in 1986. CSI made the 1997 and 1998 Finals but lost to Drew University and Montclair State University, respectively. CSI defeated the Cougars earlier this season, 83-72, back on January 19 at the Sports & Recreation Center. The two teams have met only once before in ECAC play, a quarterfinal win for Kean back in 2001.