York Advances to CUNYAC Championship
The win sets up a match-up with the top-seeded College of Staten Island in the CUNYAC Championship game on Friday at 8:30. That game will be aired live on ESPN 3 from the campus of City College. Staten Island routed Hunter College, 92-74, in their semifinal game earlier in the evening. It will be a rematch of the famous 2007 CUNYAC Championship, when the Cardinals won on a half-court buzzer beater. The winner of the game will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The second-seeded Cardinals got off to a fast start in the game, leading 13-2 in the first five minutes of action. Omar St. John (Jamaica, NY/ Martin Van Buren) had five points, including a three-pointer during the opening stretch.
After Lehman connected on a shot from long range, York responded with 11 straight points to take a commanding, 24-5 lead with 9:21 left in the half. York continued to extend its advantage, leading by as many as 25 after a St. John free throw put the Cardinals up 41-16. Lehman did close the half strong though and closed the gap to 17 points (43-26) at the half. The Cardinals featured a balanced attack with three players reaching double figures in the first half alone. St. John netted 12 points in the first half, while Michael Woods (Brooklyn, NY/ Baldwin) had 11 points and Donald Rodriguez (Brooklyn, NY/ Franklin Lane) added ten points. York had one of its best shooting halves of the season, shooting at a .533 clip (16-30) from the field and 50 percent from three-point range (4-8).
York also brought plenty of defensive pressure, forcing 12 turnovers and recording eight steals, with three of those coming from Woods. “We wanted to make sure we got a knockout punch right in the beginning and I think we were able to do that,” said York Head Coach Ronald St. John. After Lehman briefly closed the gap to 15 points shortly after the break, Woods took over, scoring seven straight points to put the Cardinals up 61-39 with just over 14 minutes left. His teammates then joined the party, as they scored seven more points to stretch the run to 14-0, and give the Cardinals a comfortable 70-39 advantage.
The game was never in doubt from that point on. St. John led York with a career-high 29 points and ten boards, while shooting 57.9 percent from the field and was named the CUNYAC/ Con Edison Player of the Game. He was also named the Player of the Game in the quarterfinal round. Woods netted 24 points on 61 percent shooting, while nabbing five steals. Rodriguez scored 15 points and Jaron Williams (Bronx, NY/ Newburgh Free) and Terell Roper (Beauford, SC/ Battery Creek) chipped in seven apiece. York shot 55 percent from the field on the evening, thanks in large part to their defense, which forced 22 turnovers and set up a number of fast break points. In all, York had 40 points off Lehman turnovers.
The win improves York’s record to 20-7, marking the fourth time in York’s history they reached 20 wins and first since the 2009-10 season. Lehman was led by Jerrome Jones with 19 points and ten boards, while Kelvin Gil scored 16 points. Lehman falls to 14-13 on the year and will hope to receive a bid to next week’s Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships. “We felt that anything other than getting to the Championship game would be a failure,” added coach St. John. “We knew if we could keep our focus we would end up there.” If you would like to attend the CUNYAC Championship, you can download FREE tickets at cunyathletics.com/tickets.