By Mak Ojutiku
On March 9th in Staten Island, New York, Kean’s men’s basketball season officially came to a close. The Cougars came up short in the ECAC Metro Championship game, losing 74-71 to the College of Staten Island. Most of Kean’s tournament games this season were close affairs and this championship game was no different. The Cougars lead by six going into the second half, and Senior center Xavier Fuller pushed the lead to 11 with a three pointer around the eight minute mark of the second half. The lead didn’t last though, as the Dolphins went on a 17-7 run right after Fuller’s three. The game was still up for grabs until the MVP of the tournament, Bloochy Magloire, sank two free throws with ten seconds left in the game, which put Staten Island up by three. Fuller lead both teams in points with 18 while Senior guard Ali Mix scored 12.
Even though the Cougars came up short in the championship game, they can still take pride in how their season turned out. The early parts of the season was very up and down for the team. Between the months of November and January, the team was never able to put together a winning streak of more than two games but also never struggled enough to suffer a losing streak longer than two games. Their record wasn’t spectacular, but more than a few of their games were. In their second game of the season, the team came back from a 21 point deficit against Stevens Institute of Technology to win 70-68. That particular win depended a lot on the offensive prowess of Mix, and Senior guard Mike Burton. Mix lead the team in points and assists this year, averaging 16.5 points a game and putting up 121 assists on the season. Burton was second in both categories averaging 15.5 points while dishing out 84 assists.
“Burton and Mix make up a very formidable back court combination in our league,” Said head coach Robert Kurzinsky in the November issue of The Tower. “I could not ask anymore from either one of them.”
The team really put it together towards the end of the season. In the last game of the regular season, with a playoff spot on the line, the team went up against the Rutgers- Newark. In a tight, contested game, the Cougars came out on top, winning 77-73. The win sent the team to the opening round of the NJAC playoffs, where they met New Jersey City University. The Cougar’s once again prevailed in another tight game winning 79-78 in overtime. The winning basket was a putback by Senior forward Kyle Latorre. The team’s NJAC championship dreams came to an end against Stockton College in the semifinals. The top seeded Ospreys overcame the Cougars in a 64-63 game thanks to a go ahead bucket with nine seconds left in the game. Stockton went on to win the championship.
Despite the loss, Coach Kurzinsky was proud about his team. “I am extremely proud to lead these young men and could not ask any more of them,” He said in the March issue of The Tower.
The Monday after their NJAC loss, the Cougars earned a berth in the ECAC championships. The team went through Mt. St. Mary College and Rutgers-Newark to reach the championship game, where they fell to College of Staten Island. They finished the season with a 16-14 record which is their first winning record since 2010.