Bearcats fall short in closing minutes

Head coach John Alesi and the Baruch College Bearcats will begin a new season as the defending CUNYAC champions.

The Bearcats are coming-off last year’s tremendous campaign that saw the team go all the way to the championships and win it for the first time since 1999. The electrifying double-overtime victory will be remembered as one of the greatest games in CUNYAC history. The Bearcats defeated the Brooklyn College Bulldogs 90-83 behind a solid 21-point performance by senior Granville Gittens. Ryan Markoe, junior and three-point specialist, finished the game with a team-high 23 points on 4- of-7 shooting behind the arc.

The Bearcats surprised many fans in their season debut with a thrilling finish in a preseason exhibition match against the Division-I Seton Hall University. The first game of the season came down to the wire with Baruch trailing as little as two points with 1:45 remaining in the game. Seton Hall then went on a 5-2 run to close out the match, and the final score was 84-79. Despite the loss, Baruch proved that the team is still capable of maintaining the same caliber of play as last season’s championship team.

Following a dynamic rookie season, Chimaechi Ekekeugbor found a spot on the starting roster to begin his sophomore campaign for the Bearcats. The 2014 CUNYAC Rookie of the Year was the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging 13.3 points throughout 28 games. Ekekeugbor flirted with a double-double, scoring 20 points and grabbing eight boards. Senior Raymond De La Cruz kicked things off by scoring the first two points of the game for Baruch. De La Cruz finished the game nearly perfect from behind the arc after sinking five of his six three-point attempts. Baruch showed-off their ability to shoot the ball, making twice as many field goals as Seton Hall did from long range.

Among some of the newer faces added to the current roster is Xaverian High School-product Isaac Doyin. Doyin started at the guard position and tallied 11 points in 22 minutes of action. The freshman made his presence felt early with an opening block in the first play of the game to get the team fired-up. The Bearcats gained momentum by staying aggressive on the offensive end and led by as many as 11 points just before the halfway point of the first period. Seton Hall climbed their way back into the game with a 10-0 run, and Baruch found their lead shrink to a measly single point. In the first half, the Bearcats scored 11 points on nine forced turnovers but struggled to protect their rim, giving up a total of 16 points inside the paint.

Both teams started the second period with the same intensity. Ekekeugbor scored from the top of the key to give the Bearcats a one-point lead, 43-42, but Seton Hall answered by hitting a jumper on its next possession. Baruch stayed hot from the three-point line but was defeated by their foul trouble. The Bearcats sent Seton Hall to the line 21 times alone in the second half and 33 overall in the game.

Seton Hall’s All-American phenom Isaiah Whitehead single handedly carried Seton Hall with 40 points to dismantle the Bearcats. Both teams scored over 50 percent of their field goals in second half efforts with Bryler Paige leading the attack for the Bearcats with 11 points.

The Bearcats’ promising performance in preseason play has given fans a reason to be excited for a highly anticipated year.

Baruch officially started its regular season against Montclair State University in a showdown on Friday, Nov. 13, on their home court. The game ended after press time.