New York men's basketball team falls short in semifinal round of 2013-2014 HVIAC Tournament as Warriors outlast Knights, 73-70

The No. 2 seeded Berkeley College of New York men’s basketball team saw their quest for its fourth consecutive Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship denied by No. 3 seeded Vaughn College, as the Warriors defeated the Knights by a score of 73-70 in the semifinal round of the HVIAC Tournament on Saturday evening at the Wellness Center on the campus of the College of New Rochelle. With the defeat, Berkeley dipped to 14-9 on the season, while Vaughn improved to 14-10 on the season en route to earning a trip to tomorrow’s conference title game against the No. 1 seeded Bears of St. Joseph’s College of Brooklyn (2:00pm).

The teams were engaged in a seesaw battle in the early stages, as the Knights and Warriors found themselves knotted at 17 apiece with 11:36 remaining in the opening session. Over the ensuing 4:04 of play, Berkeley College would begin to take control of the contest. A converted jumper by freshman center Ahmed Dickerson put the Knights in front by a score of 19-17. That was followed on Berkeley’s next possession by a basket by senior guard Richard Rampersad. A Vaughn College turnover led to another jumper by the Knights – this time courtesy of senior guard Jovan Bovell. Bovell would then drain a three-point basket before adding a layup, as Berkeley College capped an 11-0 run and took a 28-17 lead. The Knights continued to build their advantage, eventually going up by as many as 16 points (40-24) before entering the locker room with a 14 point edge at 40-26.

In the second half, the Knights maintained their commanding lead for a short time – holding a 49-34 advantage with just 14:34 remaining. It seemed as though the Knights were poised to make another trip to the HVIAC championship game, but that’s when things fell apart for Berkeley College. After the Warriors pulled to within seven at 52-45, Vaughn freshman guard Michael Pena caught fire, as he drained three consecutive shots from beyond the arc to give his squad a 54-52 lead. A basketball by Warriors freshman center Ron Wyatt, and a layup by junior forward Moises Chaucer upped Vaughn’s lead to six at 58-52.

The Warriors took their biggest lead of the game with 54 seconds remaining on the clock, as Vaughn College held a 67-57 lead – a deficit that seemed insurmountable for Berkeley College. The Knights – however – refused to quit. A layup by Bovell brought the Knights to within eight points at 67-59. Following a turnover by Vaughn College’s Eric McDonald, Rampersad would connect on a jumper and an ensuing free throw to make it 67-62 with 33 ticks left.

Vaughn would then inbound the basketball to Pena, who would drill a pair of free throws to put his team up seven with 31 seconds left. On the Knights’ next possession, senior guard Keenan Langston would nail a jumper to bring Berkeley to within five points at 69-64. Three converted free throws by Pena in the next 11 seconds gave the Warriors an eight point edge at 72-64 with 14 seconds remaining. Still, the Knights would make it interesting.

A three-point basket by Langston was followed by a turnover by Pena. Berkeley College senior guard Mario Guzman would then nail a three pointer from way beyond the arc to bring the Knights to within two points – 72-70 with four seconds to go. The Warriors would then inbound to Pena, who would misfire on his first attempt from the line before draining the second free throw. With the Knights out of timeouts and down by three points, Berkeley was forced to inbound the ball from underneath Vaughn’s basket. Guzman’s inbounds pass was intercepted by senior guard Jared Nbida who then ran out the clock and put his team in the championship game.

Despite the loss for the Knights, Berkeley College was paced by Langston who scored a team-high 16 points to go along with three rebounds and three assists. Bovell added 15 points as well, and senior center Elijah Craig netted nine points and snatched a game-high 15 rebounds.

In the victory for the Warriors, Vaughn College was led by Pena who connected on four three-point baskets and 12 of his 14 attempts from the charity stripe en route to finalizing his evening with a game-high 32 points. Wyatt was also a key factor for his squad, dropping in 14 points and snatching five rebounds. Finally, it was sophomore guard Rashad Luckett contributing with 11 points in the win.

Turnovers and missed free throws came back to doom Berkeley College, as the Knights committed 23 miscues resulting in 23 Warrior points. The Knights also connected on just seven of their 14 shots from the charity stripe for the night (50 percent), while Vaughn College made good on 23 of their 30 attempts (76.7).

While Vaughn College will now attempt to win their first Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title in their programs history tomorrow afternoon, the Knights will now have to wait to see their fate as it pertains to selections for the 2013-2014 USCAA Men’s Basketball National Tournament. 10 teams get selected to participate in the tournament, and Berkeley College will hope to get an invitation to the dance in order to have an attempt to capture a National crown.