In a game that would determine the CUNYAC Regular Season Championship and the postseason tournament’s No. 1 seed, Lehman College got the better of the College of Staten Island men’s basketball squad, 99-88, using a strong second half to power forward in the CUNYAC finale played in the Bronx, NY.  CSI fell to 18-7 overall and 11-5 in the CUNYAC, while Lehman lifted to 18-7, 12-4, respectively.  The loss puts CSI in a tie with Brooklyn College, but due to a tiebreaker, CSI will be the No. 2 seed in the tournament which kicks off later this week.

It was a tale of two halves in this Bronx matchup, with CSI taking a 10-point lead at intermission, only to see Lehman respond to two monster runs in the second half to assume control and outscore CSI, 56-35 in the second frame to take the game from the Dolphins, who played tonight without senior Thomas Delahanty.

Will Fonseca was an early catalyst for CSI, scoring eight of the Dolphins’ first 11 points as CSI was able to take an 11-6 lead in the opening minutes.  The offense continued when Kevon Murphy matched the modest lead at 13:18, 18-13, part of a big evening for the sophomore.

The high scoring affair then saw the pendulum swing in Lehman’s direction when a three-pointer by Andrew Utate gave the home squad a 30-26 edge, part of a huge night for him.  CSI, however, had a great response to close the half.  Down 39-38, CSI closed the final four minutes of the half on a 15-4 run.  Murphy had eight points in the run, converting six in a row from the line and senior reserve Gregory Civiletti added a couple of buckets as well.  At the half, CSI was up, 53-43.

That lead did not last long.

Lehman used the first of two large second-half runs early, posting a 12-0 spurt to start the period, fueled by two Oleseguin Williams baskets, to take a 55-53 lead after the first five minutes.  CSI countered with an 8-0 run as LC went cold, using a Fonseca layup to post a 61-56 lead with 13:28 to go.

At 12:05, Murphy converted again for CSI to put the visitors up, 67-62, but then the game turned and Lehman made their second big run.  Chaun Miller scored for Lehman and then consecutive baskets for Utate put Lehman ahead, 68-67.  Utate then converted again, and then again on a three, and then again inside.  Then, after a Utate free-throw, he scored again, and by the time it was over, LC had a 16-0 run on 14 Utate points, and a 78-67 lead with 6:56 to go.

CSI would run the deficit down to six on a Frank Schettino bucket with 4:16 to go, but a 7-2 Lightning spurt would balloon the lead back up, and with 1:08 to go, Orlando Minott put the game out of reach with a three to make it 97-86, before Lehman would close at 99-88.

Utate led all scorers with a whopping 36 points on 13-19 shooting, adding six rebounds.  Miller added 22 and seven rebounds, while John Brens scored a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.  CSI was led by Fonseca and Schettino’s 20 points each.  Fonseca added 14 rebounds while Schettino posted 9 assists.  Murphy came off of the bench to score 17 points with six rebounds.  CSI out-rebounded Lehman, 39-33, but committed 19 turnovers to Lehman’s 13.  Lehman shot a blistering 53.6% from the field.

Despite the loss, CSI will earn a first and second round bye in the upcoming CUNYAC Tournament, as the top two seeds will await the rest of the field in semifinal play.  The Tournament kicks off on Thursday with seeds five through eight squaring off.  Lehman tied the season series with the Dolphins with the win tonight and has earned the No. 1 seed.