New York, NY | After a feverish comeback, the College of Staten Island women’s basketball squad was overtaken in the final second by Baruch College, 74-72, in what was the regular season finale for both teams at the ARC Arena.  The loss dropped the Dolphins to 18-7 overall and 12-4 within the CUNYAC, while the Bearcats improved to 8-14, 7-9, respectively.  The decision, however, did not effect the final standings within the conference, as the team’s stayed locked into their postseason seedings and will meet again on Saturday as part of CUNYAC Quarterfinal play.

Despite coming back and taking a late lead, CSI found themselves down most of the way, especially at the start as Baruch opened a 15-point lead in the first quarter on their home floor.  Seven-straight points by Frances Snyder ignited a 15-0 run by Baruch, giving the Bearcats a 17-2 lead after the game’s first 6:36.  Melinda Spahiu and Daniela Zirpolo added baskets, while Snyder capped things with another three.

From there, the name of the game for CSI was a comeback and slow but sure, CSI did begin to chip away.  An Elena Demontreux three would cut the lead in the later stages of the first quarter to just 12 points and then after a BC bucket, CSI finished the frame on an 8-0 run.  Brianna Robisky started the run with a pair of free-throws and capped it with a three right near the buzzer to make it a 21-15 game at the end of a period.

CSI could not seize momentum though, and much like in the first quarter, the team started slow, and a pair of Spahiu baskets opened Baruch’s back up to double digits a little over three minutes into the frame.  CSI, however, fought back, and a drawn-out 13-4 run over the next five minutes put CSI to within 29-28, powered by two baskets each from Diana Todaro and Kayla Schmitter and a three from Megan McEwan.  CSI hit a snag from there, however, and BC went on a 6-2 run in the final 2:20 of the half to take a 35-30 lead into the locker room.

Another slow start plagued CSI in the third quarter, and at 7:15, Natalie Ibelhaupt banked in a lay-up to extend the lead to double-digits again, 44-33.  The teams parried back and forth from there until CSI had room for another run, this time an 11-1 rip, and Todaro cut the lead to just one with 12 seconds to go.  Spahiu, however, had the last laugh, and cut into the paint to put in a lay-up as time expired in the third to make it 55-52 after three quarters.

After going back-and-forth again to start the final stage, CSI finally tied the game on a Schmitter lay-up with 6:44 left, and after forcing a turnover, McEwan added an uncontested lay-up to secure CSI their first lead, 61-59, with 6:13 left.

A pair of lead changes dictated play from there, and things looked bleak for CSI  when down by a basket, the Dolphins misfired on two attempts inside of 90 seconds to play.  Play went back to the Bearcats, and CSi was able to force a miss but an offensive rebound forced CSI to foul with nine seconds to play.  Ibelhaupt was the shooter, and after missing the first, knocked down the second to give BC a 72-69 lead.

Forced to their final possession to tie, CSI senior Jacquelyn Cali broke away from a screen and calmly sunk a bank-shot three from the top of the arc to tie the score at 72-72 with just over two seconds to play, and the game seemingly seemed headed for overtime.  But Baruch had other plans and with under a second to play, Spahiu found an open Ibelhaupt down low and she was able to twist one in with 0.5 to go to give Baruch the buzzer-beating victory, 74-72.  CSI could not effectively run a play and time expired, giving Baruch the thrilling win.

Baruch was led by Spahiu’s and Zirpolo’s 21 points each with Spahiu adding a team-high nine rebounds and seven assists.  Snyder finished with 18 points while the hero Ibelhaupt finished with 11 points and four rebounds.  CSI was led by Schmitter’s 19 points and nine rebounds, while Todaro notched a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

Baruch shot 48.3% for the game compared to CSI’s 36.1%.  The rebound war was even at 42-42, but CSI did finish a +9 in the turnover column, forcing 19 Baruch College miscues.  The Bearcats got a tremendous lift from their bench, outscoring the Dolphins in bench points, 32-12.

With the season series split at one game apiece, the teams will settle things on Saturday as part of the CUNYAC Postseason Championship Tournament.  CSI finished as the No. 3 seed, and will host a quarterfinal matchup against the No. 6 Bearcats on Saturday at 1pm at The Tank.  CSI defeated Baruch earlier this season at home, 78-49.