The College of Staten Island men’s basketball team clinched their first trip to the CUNYAC Final since 2014, scoring a 71-54 win over No. 4 Baruch College tonight as part of semifinal action at the Nat Holman Gymnasium at City College of New York. The Dolphins will play City College of New York, a semifinal winner as well over Lehman College.
A three-pointer by Baruch’s Bryler Paige opened the scoring for the Bearcats, but after that, CSI seized control. Eight-straight CSI points, including four by Rossiter gave CSI an 8-3 lead, and after BC cut the advantage to 11-8 on a William Sixsmith three, Kevon Murphy started an 11-2 run, capped by another Rossiter three, giving CSI a 22-10 advantage with 7:50 left in the frame.
CSI continued to take advantage of Baruch’s cold shooting in the frame as the Bearcats shot just 24% in the stanza. Meanwhile, good free-throw shooting and another 9-1 spurt by CSI punched the lead up to 34-15, powered by a Frank Schettino jumper,a Murphy inside drive and a three-ball by Vincent Dacunto. Another Sixsmith three helped Baruch along, but CSI’s Murphy responded with two buckets, including a dunk with 30 seconds left to end the first half with CSI on top, 38-18, their biggest lead of the game.
Baruch needed a lift to start the second frame and they got just what they were looking for. After a series of misses on both ends, the Bearcats seized momentum with an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 38-26. CSI asked for time, and it was enough to compose the Dolphins who countered back with an 8-0 run, complete with three-straight Murphy lay-ups on feeds from Schettino.
CSI would eventually go up by as many as 22 before another BC surge cut the lead to just 13, 53-40, with just over six minutes to play. That’s when the turning point came. Another CSI turnover sent Baruch streaking up the floor. Doyin Isaac unleashed a three that fell short and CSI raced the other way, where Schettino found a wide open Rossiter who pulled up from three-point range and buried a three that sent the crowd into a flurry and gave full control back to the top-seeded Dolphins.
The teams would parry from there, with BC cutting the lead to 13 again with just over a minute to go, but the Dolphins would ice the game at the free-throw line, scoring the final four points of the game to settle for the 17-point win.
The Dolphins were led by Murphy’s 19 points on 8-11 shooting. Schettino continued his assault on the NCAA record books, adding his fifth triple-double of the season with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and a game-high 13 assists. Rossiter finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. William Sixsmith finished with 12 points to lead BC, while Chima Ekekeugbor was held relatively in check with 11 points and 8 rebounds. The Dolphins shot 43.1% from the field while Baruch finished a chilly 28.4%. CSI also enjoyed a 49-34 advantage on the glass.
The win for the Dolphins was their 14th in a row, and broke a three-game CUNYAC Tournament losing streak. The Dolphins last won a title in 2013, then fell in the Final in 2014 to York College. Their matchup with CCNY will be their third of the season. CSI won the previous two meetings by scores of 83-64 and 78-74.
Tickets will be available to the Final via http://www.cunyathletics.com with more info to follow tomorrow.