Staten Island, NY | In front of a capacity crowd at the Tank, the College of Staten Island met John Jay in the semifinal round of the CUNYAC Championship tournament. The Dolphins entered the matchup looking to avenge a pair of defeats at the hands of John Jay during the regular season while the Bloodhounds entered the game having narrowly escaped the quarterfinals round of the tournament with a 65-63 victory over Lehman College. The Dolphins earned their way to the CUNYAC Championship game via a 70-57 win over the Bloodhounds.
The Dolphins got off to a strong start, jumping out to an 8-2 lead on the back of a pair of three-pointers by Riguad Destime.
“It felt great, my teammates helped me with everything. I knew I had this in me the whole time and helped bring it out. We came out with a lot of energy after losing to them two straight times and we were ready to compete. We’re looking to come out with the same energy and confidence as we did tonight utilize coaches game plan.”
The Bloodhounds responded with seven straight points over the next two minutes taking a 9-8 lead on an Essien Epps three-pointer, one of his five makes from the beyond the arc.
For the next two and a half minutes, the scoring slowed, leaving the two teams tied at ten. It was at this point that the Dolphins went on a run that would result in a seven-point CSI lead, their largest of the half. The Dolphins’ run began with Destime’s continued hot shooting as he knocked down his third three-pointer. However, Destime picked up his second personal foul shortly after, and the Dolphins turned to Adeola Latunji and Christian Taylor, both of whom played the full 40 minutes, to keep the run going. Taylor and Latunji combined to score the next six Dolphins points, giving CSI a 19-14 lead. Andrew Kartalis then followed an offensive rebound by Chamald Martin, one of his nine boards, with a mid-range jumper to put the Dolphins in front by seven.
It was at this point that John Jay called a timeout to regroup, and when they emerged from the huddle the quickly seized control of the game. Trailing by seven, Jerome Petty connected on his lone three-pointer trimming the Dolphins lead to four. The Bloodhounds then quickly added five more points on a Kyle Laguardia layup and another Essien Epps three-pointer giving John Jay a one-point lead. Following a Dolphins timeout, John Jay extended their lead to four on a second consecutive three-pointer, this time by Romello Ford. This lead was John Jay’s largest of the game, but it was quickly erased by a pair of Austin Mick three-pointers putting the Dolphins in front 29-27. The two teams went back and forth for the remainder of the first half which came to a close on a buzzer-beating layup by Essien Epps bringing the Bloodhounds to within one.
Leading 36-35 entering the second half, Rigaud Destime opened the second half scoring with another three-pointer to put the Dolphins up four. Just inside of seventeen minutes remaining in the second half, the Dolphins extended their lead to eight on a Chamald Martin layup. After another Essien Epps three, John Jay pulled back to within five, trailing 43-38. The Dolphins immediately answered with a 14-2 run over the next three minutes plus to go up fifteen points.
Trailing 55-40 and facing their largest deficit of the game, the Bloodhounds began a comeback that would set the stage for a thrilling final 10 minutes. John Jay quickly cut the Dolphins lead to eight, but the Dolphins fought back and scored four straight to go back up twelve. From here, Essien Epps took over the scoring for John Jay hitting back to back threes to pull the Bloodhounds to within six. A pair of Doug Levy free throws then cut the lead down to four before an Epps jumper brought John Jay to within two. However, this was as close as the Bloodhounds would get. Adeola Latunji scored four straight CSI points on a mid-range jumper and layup to put the Dolphins back up six. Christian Taylor then extended the lead to three possessions with another jumper, putting CSI up 65-57. Riguad Destime then added his fifth three-pointer putting the Dolphins up 11, effectively closing the door on John Jay. Destime would add two more from the line in the final minute putting the Dolphins up 70-57, giving him a career-high 19 points on 6-of-11 from the field and 5-of-9 from long range.
The Destime free throws capped off an 11-0 Dolphins run to end the game, sending the Dolphins to their third straight CUNYAC Championship. In the CUNYAC Finals, to be played at the Hunter College Sportsplex tomorrow night at 8:30, the Dolphins take on the Bearcats of Baruch College. The Dolphins and Bearcats split the season series at one game apiece, with each team winning on their home floor. The Bloodhounds end the season with a record of 16-11 while the Dolphins will enter the CUNYAC Championship with a record of 17-9 looking to secure their third straight CUNYAC title.