Bearcats weekly recap: Men’s basketball wins CUNYAC championship

Dani Heba, Sports Editor

The Baruch College Bearcats had an eventful week, from the men’s basketball team winning the CUNY Athletic Conference Finals to the men’s and women’s swimming teams competing in the Eastern College Athletic Conference’s Finals.


The Bearcats are the 2023 CUNYAC men’s basketball champions following an 83-82 overtime win against the Lehman College Lightning at City College’s Nat Holman Gym on Feb. 24.

It was a hostile crowd, with fans roaring every time the Lightning made a stop or a bucket. But the Bearcats were in charge for most of the game, being up by 20 points at one point in the first half.

The Lightning fought and erased a seven-point Bearcat lead with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game. The Lightning’s Jayden Stephens sent the game to overtime with a game-tying layup, tying the score at 72 apiece.

The overtime period saw a back-and-forth battle with fans on their feet. The lead changed on several occasions until the score was 82-81 with 16 seconds on the clock. The Lightning were up, but the Bearcats had possession.

On the Bearcats’ last possession, guard Jehmehl Fair missed what would’ve been the game winning jump shot. But guard Devin Nicholson grabbed the offensive rebound and put in a dazzling reverse layup to give the Bearcats an 83-82 lead with four seconds remaining.

Stephens attempted to pull a last-second three to win the Lightning the game, but it missed, sending the Bearcats off as CUNYAC champions for the second year in a row.

Nicholson was named CUNYAC Championship MVP for his excellent performance, including the game-winning shot. He scored 15 points on the night, in addition to one assist and a rebound.

His brother, Gerard Nicholson, and Jehmehl Fair were named to the CUNYAC Men’s Basketball Championship All-Tournament Team. Fair poured in a team-high 20 points on the night to go with seven rebounds and two assists. Gerard Nicholson had 11 points and nine assists.

Devin Nicholson was named to the CUNYAC Men’s Basketball All-Star First Team, while Fair was named to the Second Team.

The Bearcats look to continue their 22-5 season in the NCAA Division III Tournament on March 3, where they will head to New Hampshire to play the Keene State College Owls.

The women’s season ended on Feb. 18 in the first round of the CUNYAC playoffs, where the team fell to the lower-seeded York College Cardinals at the ARC Arena, 68-60.

Mia Castillo did everything in her power to will the team to a win, scoring 30 points to account for half of the team’s scoring total, along with eight rebounds, six steals, three assists and three blocks.

Aside from Castillo, the team made 11 of their 40 shots from the field, amounting to a dismal 27.5%. The team failed to capitalize on the Cardinals’ 20 turnovers which should have provided a major source of points. But the Bearcats only scored 24 points off York’s turnovers.

Castillo, who was the CUNYAC Rookie of the Year last season, was named to the CUNYAC All-Star First Team. Elissa Leung was named to the Second Team.

After an average 14-12 record on the season, including 8-6 against CUNYAC opponents, and a disappointing early exit in the playoffs, the women’s team will look to take the offseason to make necessary adjustments.

Men’s volleyball

The men’s volleyball team bounced back from a string of losses with two statement wins against the Old Westbury College Panthers and the Brooklyn College Bulldogs this week.

The team kicked off its week against the Panthers on Feb. 22, earning a resounding 3-0 win. It was a lopsided game, as the men won the first and second set 25-7 each, and the third 25-9.

Ari Osmanaj led the team in kills and blocks with nine and two, respectively, while Defeng Han led the team in assists and digs with 15 and four, respectively. Ryan Oommen led the team in aces with four.

The men continued their excellent performance on Feb. 25 against the Bulldogs, also winning 3-0. The first two sets were fairly competitive, with the men winning 25-17 in the first and 25-20 in the second. But the Bearcats ran away with the third, dominating 25-13.

Argjend Osmanaj led the team in kills with nine, while Jonathan Liao led the team with six digs. Vukasin Bozic led the team in aces with four, and Aleksandr Howard led the team in blocks with three. Oommen led the team in assists with 17.

The men look to continue their streak with a doubleheader against the York College Cardinals on March 2.

Swimming and diving

The Baruch College Bearcats competed in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championship from Feb. 24 to Feb. 26.

The men’s team placed 20th among 21 opponents, edging out only American University, while the women’s team placed in last place among 23 opponents.