STATEN ISLAND, NY | On the night when the College of Staten Island men’s basketball team celebrated their pair of seniors, four-year senior Edin Bracic poured in a career-high 23 points, powering CSI to a 73-72 win over visiting Hunter College.  The win improved the Dolphins to 13-10 overall and 11-3 within the CUNYAC, while the Hawks fell to 11-11, 7-6, respectively.

The game started great for Bracic, who along with fellow senior Raymond Savage was honored during a pregame ceremony that also featured a guest appearance from former Head Coach Tony Petosa.  Then, when the action started, Bracic started hot and stayed that way, connecting on 7-of-11 from beyond the arc in the career evening, helping CSI stave off a frenzied comeback that saw the visitors take a late lead before the Dolphins pulled things out at the end with clutch baskets.

Before the frantic finish, CSI led wire-to-wire in the first half, opening up a 13-5 lead which featured back-to-back three’s from Bracic to open the game and then a put-back dunk by Adeola Latunji to cap it at 15:19.  A 9-0 spurt by Hunter would tie the game at 20-20 later, but CSI countered back with a 15-3 run over four minutes to take a double-digit lead with under four to play in the opening stanza.  Christian Taylor opened the run with consecutive lay-ups while Bracic closed it with another pair of threes.  CSI would ultimately go up by 13 before Hunter narrowed the deficit to 38-29 at the break on consecutive George Keener and Matt Franks inside drives.

Bracic connected on two more threes within the first five minutes of the second frame, extending CSI to as many as 10 before Hunter started to mount their comeback.  An 11-2 edge capped by a Danny Fusco three got Hunter to within 49-48 with 13:48 to go and later, another Fusco baby jumper gave the visitors back the lead, 58-57 with just over eight minutes to play.

From there, five lead changes dominated the action.  A Keener lay-up gave Hunter a 65-64 advantage with exactly five minutes to play, and after the visitors failed to build on the lead, Latunji banked in a pair of free-throws to give CSI back the lead, never relinquishing it the rest of the way.

After two more CSI freebies, Bracic canned his final three of the night at 2:36, giving CSI a buoyant 71-65 lead, but Franks powered back for a lay-up and after a pair of misses HC closed to two on a lay-up from Fusco with 52 ticks to play.  Bracic would then hit on a well-contested two-pointer from the baseline with 25 seconds left to give CSI a 73-69 advantage but Amer Lukac had a fantastic response with a three with 18 seconds left to make it 73-72.

On the ensuing possession, Hunter promptly fouled, but CSI’s Savage missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity and Hunter had a last possession to try and win, and Franks earned a chance when he powered in, but his off-balance lay-up was off the mark, giving CSI the ball back with half of a second remaining.  CSI would fumble the inbounds pass but there was not enough time for Hunter to try a shot and so CSI held on for the one-digit win.

Bacic’s 23 points, a career high, led the way while Taylor popped in 15 points with eight rebounds, and Latunji finalized with 11 points and five assists.  Stephen Flagg would add 10 rebounds in the win as well.  Hunter was led by Franks and Fusco, who hit on 17 points each, followed by Keener who finished with 15.  Lukac finalized with 10 points and 10 rebounds.  CSI modestly won the rebounding battle 39-34, but committed 14 turnovers to Hunter’s 12.

CSI will next be on the road for a CUNYAC test against top-seeded Lehman College on Saturday afternoon at 2pm in the Bronx.