New York, NY | Looking to take the season series against Baruch College and secure their third consecutive CUNYAC title, the number two seeded Dolphins traveled to the Hunter College Sportsplex to face the one seeded Bearcats in the CUNYAC Championship. The Dolphins won their first matchup of the year against Baruch by nearly 30 points while the Bearcats defeated CSI by a slim four-point margin in the regular season finale to secure the tournament’s top seed. The Dolphins earned their spot in the championship round with a 70-57 win over John Jay on Thursday night after the game was pushed back one day due to inclement weather. Baruch earned their way into the finals with a 73-59 victory over Brooklyn College on Wednesday. The Bearcats earned the CUNYAC Championship by way of a 76-74 win at the buzzer.
Just as he did against John Jay, Rigaud Destime got things started for the Dolphins offensively. Attacking the rim aggressively, Destime finished through contact, drawing the foul and adding one more from the free throw line. The Dolphins would continue to find success attacking the Bearcats interior defense early in the first half, scoring six of their first seven points in the paint.
With CSI leading 10-7, Destime’s hot shooting continued as he connected on consecutive shots from the outside, one deep two-pointer and a three. Following a Bearcats free throw to make the score 15-8, Andrew Kartalis added a second consecutive Dolphins three to increase the team’s lead to double digits.
The double-digit Dolphins’ lead was short-lived as Andre Harris immediately responded with a three of his own. Harris quickly made it five straight points connecting on a mid-range jumper off of a Dolphins’ turnover. Bryler Paige then extended the Bearcats run to 7-0 before another bucket by Harris in transition made it a 9-0 run for Baruch.
The scoring run prompted a CSI timeout which was followed by an Adeola Latunji finish inside. Despite ending the Bearcats run, the Dolphins still had no answer for Harris who came back the other way and hit another jumper. Trailing by as many as ten earlier in the half, Baruch finally drew even at 22 on a William Sixsmith layup. From there, Baruch would go on to take the lead from the free throw line on a pair of makes by Benjamin Boateng. At this point, the CSI scoring drought had extended to nearly three minutes, but that was brought to an end by a Chamald Martin score in the low post. CSI then went back in front on another Riguad Destime shot from beyond the arc, giving him 12 points. Destime went on to make it five straight turning a broken play into two more points off of a Chamald Martin feed.
Trailing by five, 29-24, Baruch once again turned to Andre Harris who snapped the 7-0 Dolphins run with a turnaround jumper from the free throw line. The Bearcats then drew even on a Jack Sixsmith three before Chamald Martin battled inside to give CSI the lead back on a tip in. A Harris free throw and four consecutive points inside gave Baruch a 34-31 lead inside of 1:30 to play in the first half before Stephen Flagg connected from the corner to even up the score at 34. Once again, it was Andre Harris who had an answer at the other end. As time expired in the half, Harris connected on a tough leaning three from the corner giving him a game-high 17 and putting Baruch in front 37-34 at halftime.
In a hotly contested first half, both teams shot the ball extremely well with the Dolphins connecting on 47% of their shots and the Bearcats hitting on 52%. For the Dolphins, Rigaud Destime picked up right where he left off on Thursday scoring 14 first-half points. Leading the way for the Bearcats was Andre Harris with 17.
After Baruch quickly scored the first two points of the second half, Destime added two more to his team-leading 14 on a mid-range pull-up to bring the Dolphins back within three. Chamald Martin then added two more from the charity stripe to cut the Bearcats lead to one before another turnaround jumper by Andre Harris put Baruch back up three. Martin quickly responded with two more on a post hook inside cutting the CSI deficit to a single point once again.
With the Dolphins trailing 41-40, the scoring halted for the next two minutes. The scoreless streak was finally broken by a Joseph Zecchino three-pointer before Chamald Martin continued his strong second half with another finish in traffic underneath. Christian Taylor then got on the board for the first time in the second half with a jumper before Zecchino put Baruch ahead on a putback. The Bearcats didn’t hold the lead long as Rigaud Destime connected on his fourth shot from long range to give CSI the lead right back.
Following a timeout and some more back and forth play, the two teams found themselves tied at 47. This tie was emphatically broken by an Adeola Latunji two-handed slam off of a steal, sending the Dolphins’ faithful on hand into a frenzy. The excitement on the CSI side didn’t last long as Bryler Paige finished through contact, drew the foul and added one more from the line.
With Baruch once again leading by one, Andrew Kartalis hit his second three-pointer to put the Dolphins up two. Allen Villar then responded with another and-one for Baruch, but he couldn’t complete the three-point-play from the line. Even at 52, it was once again a three-pointer putting the Dolphins in front as Riguad Destime connected on his fifth from long range, the team’s eighth. An Adeola Latunji layup then increased the CSI lead to five prompting a Baruch timeout to slow the Dolphins’ momentum.
Out of the timeout, Baruch quickly scored the first two points before getting even on a William Sixsmith three-pointer from well beyond the arc. With the Baruch fans energized and the Dolphins’ lead gone, CSI was struggling for offense. Benjamin Boateng gave the Bearcats the lead on a tip-in which was followed by a Dolphins turnover. After the Bearcats missed the opportunity to go up two possessions, Joseph Zieris got the Dolphins even again, finishing through heavy traffic inside.
The finish by Zieris was followed by a Dolphins timeout after which Benjamin Boateng converted on back-to-back attempts down low. Baruch then extended their lead to five, their largest of the game, on a basket by William Sixsmith. This time it was Andrew Kartalis who had the answer for the Dolphins converting on an acrobatic layup to bring CSI back within 3.
After another timeout called by the Dolphins, Benjamin Boateng looked to go right at Adeola Latunji, who had four personal fouls but instead was charged with an offensive foul of his own. Another big finish at the rim by Joseph Zieris brought the Dolphins back within one before Christian Taylor converted on one of two attempts from the line to even the score at 65 soon after.
With the score even at 65, Andre Harris drew a foul and finished through the contact giving the Bearcats a three-point lead on the made free throw. Zieris once again came up huge for the Dolphins in response, scoring another tough basket inside to bring the Dolphins within a point. At the other end of the floor, Harris took the ball into the teeth of the Dolphins defense once again, finishing through the contact, and earning another trip to the line in the process. This time Harris couldn’t convert from the line and CSI once again turned to Joseph Zieris at the offensive end. Zieris drew contact inside sending him to the line for two shots. After missing the first, Zieris made the second, making the score 70-68 in favor of Baruch.
The Dolphins would come up with a key stop at the defensive end, setting the stage for a Chamald Martin offensive rebound and put back through a foul. With the Sportsplex roaring, Martin hit the free throw to put CSI back up one. The Bearcats would look to isolate Andre Harris once again, and he was able to draw the foul against Martin. At the line for two, Harris knocked down the clutch free throws and put his team back up one. The Dolphins would look to get the ball into the hands of CUNYAC Player of the Year Christian Taylor, but the Bearcats engulfed Taylor in a double-team on the entry pass coming away with the steal.
Following the turnover, CSI called timeout setting up a Baruch inbound from the sideline. The Dolphins would overwhelm the Bearcats with a full-court press following the inbound, coming away with the steal. However, the Dolphins would turn the ball over once again, forcing them to foul and send Andre Harris to the line for two. Harris hit both free throws to put Baruch up three.
Trailing by three with less than 20 seconds to play, the Dolphins put the ball in the hands of Christian Taylor once again. This time Taylor isolated from the wing and connected on the biggest shot of the Dolphins season to tie the game from downtown. With the score tied at 74, there were 4.7 seconds remaining on the clock, enough time for the Bearcats to push the ball up the floor for one final shot. Off of the inbound pass, Baruch pushed the ball ahead to Benjamin Boateng who capped off his strong second half with a buzzer-beating jump shot from the free throw line. With only .2 seconds left and unable to advance to the ball, the Boateng shot ended the Dolphins season and earned Baruch the CUNYAC championship.
In the defeat, Rigaud Destime lead the Dolphins in scoring for the second consecutive night with 23, setting another career high in points. Chamald Martin also had a stellar performance with 13 points and 6 rebounds while Adeola Latunji contributed a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. It was Andre Harris who lead the way for Baruch offensively scoring 29 points and earning CUNYAC Championship game MVP honors. Though Harris took home the MVP award, Benjamin Boateng also scored a career-high 14 points and grabbed 10 boards on top of hitting the game-winning shot.
With the loss, CSI closes the season at 17-10 while Baruch improves to 21-5 and punches a ticket to the NCAA Division III tournament. The win improved the Bearcats to 2-1 against the Dolphins this year and denies CSI their third consecutive CUNYAC Championship.