York College Wins 2014 CUNYAC Men's Basketball Championship
New York, N.Y.— The York College men's basketball team upset the top-seeded College of Staten Island, 87-84, in a thrilling matchup to win the 2014 CUNY Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship on the campus of City College Friday Night.
With the win, York now receives an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament. The seedings will be announced on Monday.
Michael Woods (Brooklyn, NY/ Baldwin), the CUNYAC Player of the Year, was the best player on the court this evening as well, as he scored a game-high 36 points to go along with four assists, four steals and two blocks. He also came up big in the final minute of play, forcing a steal on the Dolphins final possession and hitting a pair of free throws to secure the victory. He was named the CUNYAC Tournament MVP for his outstanding effort.
"Woods had the performance we needed him to have today," said head coach Ronald St. John
York, who was the #2 seed in the tournament, got off to a fast start, scoring the game’s first eight points on the strength of three-pointers by Omar St. John (Jamica, NY/ Martin Van Buren) and Donald Rodriguez (Brooklyn, NY/ Franklin K. Lane). In addition, Staten’s Island CUNYAC All-Star Jonathan Chadwick-Myers got into early foul trouble, picking up two fouls in the opening two minutes, helping the Cardinals cause.
After Staten Island scored the next five points, Woods scored 12 points to spark the Cardinals to a 14-0 run, which gave them a 22-5 advantage with 13:59 left in the first half. Woods connected on a set of three-pointers, one of which resulted in a four-point play.
Staten Island settled down a bit though and got back into the game, thank in large part to Will Fonseca, who scored eight points in a five-minute span, to cut the deficit to 25-15. The Cardinals also saw one of its top players, center Jaron Williams (Bronx, NY/ Newburgh Free), get into foul trouble, and Staten Island used the advantage in the post to cut into the deficit.
Staten Island then began to slowly chip into the York lead and trailed by just six points (31-25) after a Javon Cox lay-up with 6:30 left in the half. The two teams went back and forth from there, but the Dolphins closed the half strong and cut the deficit to 40-36 at halftime.
Staten Island continued their resurgence coming out of the locker room and rallied to take the lead in the opening minutes of the second half. An 11-6 stretch put them up 47-46 with 16:40 to go. But as has been the case all year for York, it was Woods and St. John who helped York get back on track. Woods responded with a pair of buckets before setting up St. John on a pair of fast break points on the following two possessions—giving York a 54-47 advantage with 14:35 left.
The two teams continued to go back and forth in an contest full of fast-paced action. A few minutes later a pair of Bloochy Magliore three’s put the Dolphins up 66-65, with just over nine minutes left. After York evened up the score, Magliore connected on another three, giving the Dolphins a 72-69 advantage with 7:15 to go.
But in a key turning point of the game, with CSI gaining momentum, Rodriguez put York back on top again when he drained a couple three’s of his own, following a media timeout, giving York a 75-73 lead with 6:55 to go.
"That was truly the turning point of the game," added St. John. “When he hit those two threes that’s when we started to settle down.”
With 3:42 to play and York still nursing a narrow lead, Williams picked up his fifth foul, leaving the Cardinals vulnerable down low again. A few minutes later, backup point guard Justin Garvin fouled out as well. York was already missing starting point guard Du’Quan Lawson, who checked out of the game earlier due to an injury.
The Dolphins took advantage of the short-handed Cardinals, as a Frankie Schettino three-pointer put CSI up 84-83 with just 1:30 to go. But Woods came back on the next possession to put York back in front by one.
On the next CSI possession, the Cardinals forced a turnover and had a chance to extend the lead. They tried to run the clock down as much as possible but they let too much time run down and were called for a shot-clock violation. This left the Dolphins with a shot at one final possession with 17 seconds left. On the possession, Woods forced a steal and then was fouled with just four seconds left. Woods then drained both shots to put York up by three.
On the final play of the game , CSI turned the ball over again and York ran out the clock for the win.
The Dolphins saw its 24-game win streak snapped with the loss. The defeat also ends their two-year reign as CUNYAC Champs. However, the #18 ranked Dolphins still have a good shot of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The game, which was broadcast live on ESPN 3, definitely made for great television. “We knew it was gonna be a battle and we battled to the end. I’m so proud of these guys. From day one we made this our commitment and we accomplished it. You couldn’t ask for a better game to showcase the conference and Division III,” added St. John
The championship for York is their fourth in school history (1997, 2006, 2007 were the others). They will be seeking their first-ever NCAA Tournament win next week. Tune in to the NCAA selection show at 12:30 p.m. on March 3. The pairings will be announced at NCAA.com.
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