The College of Staten Island men’s basketball team used a buzzer-beating three-point basket by junior Vincent Dacunto to score a thrilling, 97-95, win over visiting Stevens Institute of Technology in CSI’s non-conference home opener at the Sports & Recreation Center.  The Dolphins moved to 4-2 with the win, while the Ducks fell to an even 4-4.

Before Dacunto sunk his improbable shot, it was actually CSI that was in control most of the way before a late rally by Stevens saw the visitors take the lead in the late stages.  CSI led mostly wire-to-wire in the first half, shaking off a 4-0 hole by extending on a 10-2 run in the opening stages powered by two Will Fonseca lay-ups and a Dacunto drive.  From there, Stevens cut the lead to a digit at 10-9 before CSI extended to a 10-point lead on two occasions.  A three-pointer by Wesley Smith powered CSI the first time, and later, at 5:22 to go, Khaleeq Baum drove in to notch a 43-33 Dolphins edge.  Stevens chipped away, and were doing heavy damage at the free-throw line.  Chris Cosgrove sank four freebies to narrow the lead down to five at intermission, 54-49.  Stevens was a perfect 15-15 from the stripe in the opening stanza.

A jumper by Fonseca once again matched CSI’s biggest lead at 10 in the opening stages of the half, and another jumper by Smith at 14:13, gave CSI their biggest lead of the game, 73-60.  Both teams traded shots from there, but with the score at 75-62 with 13:47, Stevens made their move.

A three-pointer by Kevin Zychowski instantly sliced the lead, then Ryan Coffey and Cosgrove made buckets to make the score 75-69 with 10:59 to go.  Alex Lorenz pulled the Ducks to within two, 77-75, with 8:17 to go, but CSI kept the visitors at bay until a Patrick Barron layup gave the Ducks an 85-84 lead with just over five minutes to play.  Edin Bracic punched back for CSI with a three, but Barron countered with a three the other way, setting the stage for a wild finish.

A 7-0 Stevens run, highlighted by yet another Barron three, part of six on the afternoon, gave the Ducks a commanding, 95-91, lead with just 56 seconds remaining.  Unfortunately for the Ducks, they would not score again, and CSI hit their fated baskets.  First, Bracic knocked in a long range three with the shot clock winding down to make it a 95-94 game with just 34 ticks left.

After a CSI timeout, the Ducks made sure to use every bit of the 30 second shot clock for a final attempt, but an Evan Klimchak three hit the front end of the rim with precious seconds remaining.  The long rebound was scooped up by Bracic, who managed to push the ball across the court to Wesley Smith.  Smith was draped by two defenders, and it appeared that CSI would have no play to even put up a shot, but Smith was able to send the ball to a flying Dacunto on the opposite end of the floor.  Dacunto heaved the ball up with no time left on the clock and from just beyond the three-point line, and the shot hit nothing but twine for the unbelievable win.  

Dacunto, who finished with 12 points and four assists was immediately mobbed by his teammates and sent the CSI crowd into hysterics.

“It was in their hands,” Head CoCh Tony Petosa said of his squad after the game.  “We knew we were not going to call a timeout and I wasn’t so sure we would get a shot off, but once Vinny put it up I felt it was going in.  I am thrilled to death for him.  Vinny is someone who has done everything right and for him to have that once in a lifetime moment was tremendous.”

CSI’s Fonseca led all scorers with 25 points and 11 rebounds, also tied for the team lead with six assists.  Bracic finished with 14 points and five assists, while Thomas Delahanty powered for 13 points and eight rebounds.  Wesley Smith was the other Dolphin in double figures, with 10 points.  Barron led Stevens with 24 points, thanks largely to his 6-for-9 touch from beyond the arc.  Lorenz, Klimchak, and Cosgrove each tallied 14 points.  Lorenz added six rebounds and four blocked shots.  The teams could not have played a more even game.  Both teams tallied 39 rebounds, and CSI was only a +1 in the turnover column.  A big difference was free-throw shooting.  The Ducks finished 17-19 from the stripe, while the Dolphins were just 7-12.

CSI improved to 4-6 all-time against Stevens, having now won the last three meetings.  The Dolphins will be back in action on Tuesday, when they travel to face Baruch College in Manhattan for a 7:30pm match-up, to continue CUNYAC play.