BUZZER-BEATER LIFTS HUNTER MEN OVER CSI, 82-81

In what ultimately came down to a controversial final shot as time expired, Hunter College’s Brian Kruger hit the game winner to score an 82-81 win over College of Staten Island as part of CUNYAC play at the Sports & Recreation Center this evening. The win lifted Hunter to 2-16 overall and 2-7 within the CUNYAC, while CSI fell to 13-5, 6-3, respectively.

Without the benefits of a replay monitor, it didn’t take long for the officials to determine that Kruger’s shot was launched before time expired, leaving a stunned CSI contingent grasping for answers. Video would later reveal that the officials missed a double-dribble before the shot attempt, and time had expired before Kruger released the shot (video), but it didn’t matter to CSI Head Coach Tony Petosa, who saw his team miss four crucial free-throws with under a minute left that would have iced the game for the Dolphins.

“It doesn’t matter,” Petosa said. “It was so close that you can’t fault anyone in that situation. We were more upset about the double-dribble. We had our chances.”

Indeed they did. Up by six at the half, CSI led by as many as 11 before Hunter began their improbable comeback. Still, the Dolphins nursed a one-point edge with under a minute to play, and forced to foul the Hawks sent Khari Rollock and Thomas Delahanty to the free-throw line to shoot free-throws. The duo could not connect on any, however, and Hunter had possession with 25 seconds to play. After a loose ball scramble, Kruger came up with the basketball near the three point line with three ticks left, and the senior darted between defenders to heave a jumper from the free-throw line extended and drained it for the winner.

The Hawks were aided by a healthy 52% shooting performance from the arc, where they nailed 12 of 23 shots, led by Kruger’s six. It helped the visitors skate to an early 15-8 edge just 4:21 into the game. CSI responded, however, thanks to an incredible first half performance from Will Fonseca, who scored 22 of his game-high 33 points in the opening stanza, and CSI used a 17-3 run over six minutes to grab a 29-20 edge with seven minutes to play in the opening stanza.

CSI was up 43-37 at the break, and would later extend to 54-43 with 15:18 to play, before the Hunter rally. Alex Mattina drained two three’s to cut the lead to four, and after parrying back-and-forth, A Kruger three gave Hunter back the lead at 66-65 with 8:31 to play. The lead would change hands three times from there and would be tied on four occasions before a three-pointer by Frank Schettino gave the Dolphins an 81-80 edge with just 1:58 to play. Unfortunately, CSI would not score again.

Hunter found it equally hard to register, as Kruger missed a lay-up with 1:39 to play before Rollock was fouled with 53 seconds left. The junior would miss the pair, but CSI would get the ball back again after a Matt Franks failed lay-up. That’s when Delahanty was intentionally fouled with 25 ticks remaining, and after the consecutive misses, Hunter lined up their final heave.

CSI shot just 56% from the stripe for the game (13-23), a mark that soured a 49.2% shooting night from the field. CSI out-rebounded Hunter, 38-28, and were a plus-two in the turnover category. Fonseca led the way with 33 points and 10 rebounds, while Frank Schettino added 13 points and six assists. Kruger finalized with 26 for the Hawks, while Mattina registered 19. The duo connected on 11-18 from beyond the arc, and just 5-12 inside of it.

The Dolphins will now have a full week off before their next contest. Up next, they will face John Jay College on Wednesday, January 27, at 7:30pm at the Sports & Recreation Center.

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