The College of Staten Island men’s basketball squad ended their two-game conference slide and in the process handed visiting Lehman College their first CUNYAC loss, out-lasting the Lightning by an 82-76 count at the Sports & Recreation Center.  CSI lifted to 10-4 overall and 4-2 in the CUNYAC with the win, while Lehman fell to 10-4, 5-1, respectively.

The game stayed tight the entire way and seemed poised for a quality finish as the team battled through 14 ties and 13 lead changes.  It was ultimately a 10-4 run over a four minute stretch late in the game that sealed things for the Dolphins, along with the team’s best day at the free-throw line.  In between, there was plenty of emotion and quality play.

Lehman raced out to the hot start, grabbing an 8-2 edge early as CSI went 1-5 with four turnovers in the game’s first four and a half minutes.  Lehman forced 14 CSI turnovers in all in the first frame, and it helped the visitors later to a 6-0 run that was capped by an Astrit Krasniqi layup that gave the Lightning a 33-29 edge with 4:45 to go in the first frame.  CSI, however, kept getting opportunities at the line, and kept cutting the lead to one after two free-throws by Vincent Dacunto, Khaleeq Baum, and Will Fonseca.  In fact, CSI’s last eight points of the half in the final 4:30 came via the stripe, as Lehman went into intermission up, 41-39, at the break.

CSI then set up for a feverish second half with a hot start in the second half as Dacunto drained a three to give the home squad the lead, 44-43.  From there, the game danced back-and-forth.  CSI gained more momentum with a dunk by Baum off of a Frank Schettino feeder that made the score 51-47, but again Lehman answered, using two free-throws and then a bucket by Chaun Miller to knot the game.

The game then took a turn when CSI’s Khaleeq Baum and Lehman’s Niv Solomon were whistled for double flagrant technical fouls meriting ejections, when the two confronted each other verbally on the court with 11 minutes to play.  At that point, Baum had registered 16 points and seven rebounds, while Solomon had garnered just two points and three rebounds in 14 frustrating minutes.

The event set up for a fast-paced finished, slowed down only by stellar free-throw shooting on both sides.  Olando Minott gave Lehman a decisive 65-61 edge with 7:04 to go, but CSI clamped in defensively and then Will Fonseca responded with a layup and Edin Bracic posted two free-throws to knot the score.  Another pair of throws by Thomas Delahanty completed the 6-0 run, but Minott responded by tying the game for the last time at 4:16 with an interior drive.

That’s when CSI made their 10-4 run.  With CSI up 70-69, Fonseca buried a long-range jumper.  John Brens scored two freebies for Lehman to make it 72-71, but then with 1:20 left, Fonseca rattled in a lay-up while getting fouled and sank the point after to give CSI a 75-71 lead.  Minott then turned the ball over on a Schettino steal, and the junior went coast to coast to put CSI ahead 77-71 with just 44 seconds remaining.  Down 78-73, LC made it interesting when Minott made a three-point play with 18 seconds left to cut the CSI lead to 78-75, but the Dolphins hit their remaining four free-throws to put a bow on the game, matching their biggest lead of the game with the 82-76 final.

CSI overcame 21 turnovers and a minus-9 turnover differential with a solid, 46.4%, shooting performance.  The Dolphins added an 83.3% clip from the line (25-30).  Lehman shot 41.7%, but took a healthy 16 more shots than the Dolphins despite being out-rebounded 45-30.  Fonseca led the way with 23 points, a mark that included 16 in the second half.  After Baum’s 16, CSI received 15 from Bracic and 11 points and 9 assists from Schettino.  Lehman’s Minott finished with 23 points before fouling out late in the game, and got 18 points and six rebounds from Miller.

The Dolphins will be back in action on Wednesday, January 13, when they travel to face York College in Queens at 8:00pm.