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Back to back to back for the Bearcats

Jumaane Millette

Baruch College’s Men’s Basketball team has three-peated the CUNYAC tournament after completing a season sweep of both Hunter College and Lehman College.

The top-seed Bearcats faced off in the semi-finals with the four-seed Hunter College on Feb. 21. The experienced squad looked to extend their win streak in the Battle of Lexington showdown to eight games. Baruch’s most recent loss to Hunter was in February 2020.

Baruch got off to a slow start, allowing Hunter a glimmer of hope before pulling away thanks to aggressive defense and ecstatic team energy. The bench was thoroughly involved throughout the matchup, and on-court communication was much stronger than that of the Hawks.

John Alesi, the CUNYAC coach of the year, was quite vocal and energetic throughout. Alesi was seen two times yelling at the referees over questionable calls.

Devin Nicholson, Baruch’s leading scorer and this season’s CUNYAC player of the year, poured on 23 points on nine of 16 shooting. 17 of his points came in the second half which helped the Bearcats extend the lead and deflate Hunter’s chances at an upset. Off the bench, Sayeed Osorio added 18 points and three steals. Big body Akil Vaughn had a game-high eight rebounds, three of which came on the offensive board.

Baruch shot 51.6% from the field and 42.9% from beyond the arc to defeat Hunter 83-67 and advance to their fifth straight championship game. 

The troops looked to reign over CUNYAC with a win in the finals against Lehman College on Feb. 23. The game was held in a sold-out Arc Arena and the action did not disappoint the emphatic spectators.

It was neck-and-neck throughout the match; there were a total of 20 lead changes and 16 ties throughout the forty-minute showdown.

Lehman brought an intensity that Baruch was forced to match. Lehman appeared to have a size advantage in the match as well, but Baruch was able to mitigate this with gritty defense and a barrage of three-pointers. The team attempted 30 total compared to Lehman’s 16. 

Mohamad Gueye had a fruitful first half, knocking down three three-pointers and recording 11 of his 15 points early in the game. Devin Nicholson again proved his special scoring ability with a team-high 21 points.

Baruch’s saving grace in the game, however, was Jehmehl Fair, who led the team in rebounds (7), assists (6) and steals (4) while adding 11 points. Not to mention, Fair is a certified clutch bucket.

With under 30 seconds to play, the game was tied at 68 a piece when Fair knocked down a huge go-ahead three-pointer for Baruch that ultimately sealed the game. Lehman scrambled for an attempt to even the score but wound up with a pair of free throws to bring it back within one point. They had to foul with one second left where Emil Purisic knocked down one of two and Lehman was forced to take a full-court heave for the win. It did not fall.

The Bearcats hailed victorious despite a 46.3% shooting performance by the Lightning Bugs. Baruch shot 43.3% percent from three and only committed seven turnovers to Lehman’s 14.

With the CUNYAC championship triumph, Baruch has secured an automatic bid to battle for the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball championship title. Time for some March Madness, where anything can happen!

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Jumaane Millette
Jumaane Millette, Photography Editor
Jumaane Millette is the Photography Editor for The Ticker.
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