Battle of Lex’s ‘exhilarating’ return brings Baruch community together

May Khin and Sazida Marzia

The Baruch College’s ARC Arena filled with cheers, Bernie throwing t-shirts and the crowd stomping their feet on the ground as they cheered for the basketball game between Baruch College Bearcats and Hunter College Hawks on Feb. 2.

Students, parents and alumni from both colleges showed up in support of their team. However, the crowd from the Bearcats was greater in turnout and louder in cheers.

Number 11 from the Bearcats men’s team Sayeed “Klay” Osorio said there was a lot of love in the crowd.

“I was excited, that was probably the most active game that we had all year, it was a lot of fun playing the run in front of the Baruch students and Baruch fans,” said Osorio. “The atmosphere here today, I think that was the most different game I ever played in my life, it was just electric.”

Senior Melissa Chauca, a public affairs major, said when she was a freshman, upperclassmen told her to experience the battle at least once before she graduates.

“I remember being a freshman or even before coming, hearing you need to go to the Battle of Lexington, that’s crazy, we have this rivalry with Hunter,” Chauca said. “So finally coming felt kind of full circle in a way because it was like I finally got to see what they were talking about.”

Osorio said he could sense the crowd’s enthusiasm while he was on the court.

“Every shot we made, just hearing the love from the fans, my adrenaline was just rushing every minute of the game,” Osorio said. “I just felt like everybody was with us on that court.”

The Battle of Lexington is an annual tradition, and the rivalry between the Bearcats and Hawks just celebrated its 17th year of the competition.

This year the game took place at Baruch.

The Bearcats men’s basketball team took the victory with a score of 129-85.

The Hawks women’s team won with a score of 56-47.

The women’s game started at 5:30 p.m. and the men’s game started at 8:00 p.m. There was an intermission between the women’s and men’s games and refreshments were provided to the attendees.

The game’s name originated from each college being located on Lexington Avenue, with Baruch between 23rd and 25th street, Hunter between 67th and 68th street.      It is also a spin on the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the first two battles of the American Revolution.

Amaris Efthimiou, a transfer student from Hunter, said it was crazy to see both sides, but she cheered for Baruch.

“I played volleyball in high school so I really understand how nerve-wracking it can be [for the players],” Efthimiou said.

The captain of the Bearcats men’s team Sean Donnellan said he was excited by the performance of the underclassmen on his team.

“The top performance, Devin Nicholson, 38-point game, unreal and all the way down the line with freshmen like Cole Bailey and Joseph Fitzgerald, both getting their first points I believe, which was really exciting,” Donnellan said.

He also said that he was happy to see the crowd this year was about the same as the turnout before the pandemic.

“It’s always the best game of the year, it was so much fun,” Donnellan said. “A really good time, so proud of my teammates.”

Donnellan explained how the men’s team dominated the second half of the game.

“I think the difference in the second half was the way we started playing defense, the first half they were on fire,” Donnellan said. “I think they hit 11 threes in the first, we were playing a good amount of zone in the first half and we came in at halftime, talked it over and decided, let’s give our man to man.”

He said after they switched to man-to-man the difference was noticeable.

“We really just did a great job, putting a lid on the basketball,” said Donnellan. “I think getting stops defensively and grabbing rebounds, a lot of push, get a lot of open shots and transition, and that was huge for us.”

The Bearcats women’s basketball coach Michael Kotrozos said there were a lot of missed shots and missed opportunities for the women’s team, but that he was happy with the team’s energy.

“I feel like we kind of gave it away, we didn’t play too well the second half,” Kotrozos said. “The team spirit is great, we’re a young team, freshmen and sophomores, they’re very energetic, they’re into the game.”

He said the team has a bright future ahead of them.

“They are a good group, they are going to be together for the next couple of years and it’s exciting,” Kotrozos said.

Derek Guaman, an international business major at Baruch, said that attending the game and cheering on the Bearcats along his classmates made him feel like he was part of a community.

“It was really exhilarating even when it was scoreless, it was still entertaining and interesting,” he said. “It was probably like my first one that I’ve been to, even as a junior, and it was just really nice.”