Bearcats split Battle of Lexington men’s team dominates

Dani Heba, Sports Editor

Students and fans packed Baruch College’s own ARC Arena for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, for a record-setting Battle of Lexington.

The Battle of Lexington, dubbed “Battle of Lex” for short, is the rivalry between the Baruch Bearcats and the Hunter College Hawks. The name derives from each school’s location along Lexington Avenue, with Baruch between 23rd and 25th Street and Hunter between 67th and 68th Street.

Each year, the Battle of Lex features a doubleheader between the women’s and the men’s basketball teams from each respective school.

Students and fans packed the ARC Arena at the start of the women’s game at 5:30 p.m., the first game of the doubleheader. It was a scene unlike any other at Baruch since the start of the pandemic, reaffirming the return of the college’s social scene since COVID-19 lockdowns first started.

The women kept the game competitive in the first half, with the Bearcats leading 35-32. The Bearcats shot efficiently from the field, making close to half of their shots from the field and shooting 35.7% from beyond the arc.

Despite the Hawks shooting a dismal 27.3% from the field, 22.2% from beyond the arc and 44.4% from the free throw line in the first half, they were able to stay in the game due to a plethora of unforced errors by the Bearcats, who compiled 14 turnovers by halftime compared to the Hawks’ four.

The unforced errors continued in the second half, which ultimately led to the Hawks’ takeover in the fourth quarter to seal the win.

The Bearcats went cold from the field in the second half, pouring in only 12 points on 17.4% shooting from the field, 8.3% shooting from beyond the arc and 37.5% from the foul line.

The Hawks were not much better, but it was enough to pull away with the win. They shot 34.6% from the field, 33.3% from beyond the arc and 50% from the foul line to a total of 24 points in the second half.

Mia Castillo led the way for the Bearcats, posting 19 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, with 11 turnovers. Alexa Charles headed the Hawks’ comeback, posting 15 points, 11 rebounds, seven steals and three blocks to go along with seven turnovers.

After the women’s game, students in attendance formed a massive line to grab free food from Baruch’s tailgate. There were also free shirts commemorating the event available and opportunities to win free prizes, such as Baruch towels.

The men’s teams tipped off the second half of the doubleheader at 8:00 p.m. in what would unfold as a record-setting night for the Bearcats.

The first half of the game was highly competitive and initially seemed to be one that could go down to the wire. The Bearcats led 59-53 at the close of the first half and did an excellent job of drawing contact, shooting 16 free throws in comparison to the Hawks’ two.

Both teams put up respectable numbers in the first half. The Bearcats shot a phenomenal 60% from the field, 45.5% from three and 87.5% from the foul line, while the Hawks shot 40% from the field, 33.3% from beyond the arc and 100% at the foul line.

But the Bearcats exploded in the second half, and the Hawks weren’t able to get anything going. Fans were roaring in support of the Bearcats, who just couldn’t seem to miss. “Take the 6-train” could be heard as fans rubbed salt in the wound of Hawks players.

Time continued ticking as fans could only wonder just how much greater the Bearcats’ lead would get. The second half closed with the Bearcats outscoring the Hawks 70-32, concluding with a 44-point win for Baruch.

In the second half, the Bearcats shot an outstanding 65.8% from the field, 50% from beyond the arc and 66.7% from the free throw line. In contrast, the Hawks shot an ice-cold 21.7% from the field, 16.7% from beyond the arc and 63.6% from the foul line.

Devin Nicholson poured in a career-high 38 points to go along with six assists in leading the Bearcats to the win. Jehmehl Fair also scored a career-high 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to cap off a double-double in the historic night for the men’s team.

The 129 points the men’s team scored is a Baruch record. The last time the team poured in more than 100 points was also against the Hawks, coming on Dec. 2, 2022, in a 107-96 win.

Such a collective performance by Baruch can only bring more positive attention to Bearcats athletics, and students should be excited to watch their Bearcats continue to compete this season.