LAST-SECOND HEROICS LIFT CSI OVER KEAN, 66-65

Union, NJ |  In a game in which they trailed a majority of the way, the College of Staten Island men’s basketball team was able to win in the final moments, capturing a 66-65 win over Kean University on the road.  The win, the first in back-to-back fashion this season for the Dolphins raised the unit to 4-6 overall, while the Cougars fell to 1-9.

Trailing by as many as 10 in the first half, the Dolphins were able to rip back the lead in the second stanza, before falling behind again over the final six minutes before an Adeola Latunji lay-up with five seconds to play became the difference in what was CSI’s 9th-straight victory over Kean in the non-conference rivalry.

Before that, CSI scored the first two baskets of the game, but soon found themselves down by a bunch as Kean’s Micah Kerr canned three baskets, the final one a three, to aid KU to a 16-2 run over the next five minutes, giving the home side a 10-point lead with 13:49 left in the first stanza.

A dunk by Latunji followed by a three from Andrew Kartalis kept the Dolphins involved, and the visitors were able to keep the score close, though couldn’t seem to get over the hump.  With inside of five minutes to go in the opening half, a three-point play by Christian Taylor cut the lead to four points, before a Kerr lay-up with inside of a minute left sent Kean with a 36-30 lead heading into halftime.

With plenty of time to go, CSI used a more modest, 6-0, run to get back the lead at 41-40 with 16-plus minutes to go in regulation.  Taylor accounted for the points via two three’s but in a recurring theme, the Cougars fired back, this time with a Jodrell Thompson three, starting what was a series of three lead changes.

Kean worked the lead back up to as many as eight points, 54-46, with 8:42 to play on a Nate Lyles three, but CSI answered with a 10-2 run to tie the game at 56-56 with 6:29 to play, capped by a Latunji three.  Jailen Jamison responded with a lay-up for Kean to keep the home team up the rest of the way before the CSI flurry in the final seconds.

Justin Watson canned a three for KU at 4:07, but it would prove to be their final basket of the game.  Latunji followed with a jumper, and after two Kerr free-throws made it 64-58 with 3:14 to go, Taylor sank another three for the Dolphins at 3:04 to cut the lead to three.  After two turnovers and a miss from the Cougars, Taylor was fouled with 1:05 to go, sinking both to cut the KU lead to 64-63. 

Latunji would foul Kerr with 41 seconds left, but Kerr only made one of two free ones to keep the KU lead to just two.  On the ensuing possession, KU committed two fouls, and with a chance to tie the game, Taylor would only sink one free-throw, but on the second, Latunji sprang to the open board, collecting the rebound with 24 ticks remaining.  Down to a final shot, CSI got the ball back into the hands of Latunji, who stepped into the lane and calmly sank a lay-in to give CSI the 66-65 edge.  Down to a final chance, Kean’s Jamison was able to fire off a long-range three, but missed as time expired to seal the CSI win.

CSI would be led by Taylor’s 25 points, and Latunji was next in line with 14 points and a team-high 11 rebounds, none bigger than his offensive board at the conclusion of the game.  Kartalis added 10 points coming off of the bench, while Chamald Martin finished with seven points and six rebounds.  Kean was paced by Kerr’s 28 points with Jamison adding 11 and six rebounds.  Thompson was the team leader with nine rebounds, adding seven points.

CSI shot just 32.5% (21-56) to Kean’s 43.9% (25-57), but the Dolphins did force 23 Kean turnovers, and shot 16-of-21 free-throws to the Cougars’ 7-10.

The win for the Dolphins marked their first back-to-back wins of the season, and after an 0-4 start, CSI has now won three of their last four and four of their last six games.

The Dolphins will now be idle until the 17th Annual Tournament of Heroes played at CSI on December 28-29.  The Dolphins will open up against Bates College on December 28 at 7:30 pm.  In the Tournament’s opening game, Gwynned-Mercy will face off against Tufts.

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