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York Cardinals best CCNY in quarterfinals

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York College entered the CUNY Tournament with a 13-game winning streak. Over the first eight games they beat opponents convincingly. In the following five games of the streak the contests were much closer against teams they beat easily in the first match-up. Getting up for teams York has blown out the first time hasn't been easy.

In the CUNY quarterfinals on Saturday night, the top-seeded Cardinals faced the City College of New York. The last time the two teams met York won rather easily, 69-50. So it wasn't surprising that York started out slowly and entered the half tied at 32. The Cardinals came out revitalized in the second half and averted the upset with a 72-62 victory over the Beavers at the College of Staten Island. The Cardinals have now won 14 consecutive games and will play in the semifinals for the eighth consecutive season.

"I didn't think we played well at all in the first half," York head coach Ronald St. John said. "We didn't come out to play. They kept it close. We gave them hope and they had energy. We're not playing with killer instinct."

"We weren't able to get into the flow of the game," 7-foot senior center Neil Edwards said. "We came out too complacent. They came out hungry."

York (18-7) did not. It appeared the Cardinals were taking the Beavers lightly. They were sloppy on offense, committing 14 turnovers in the first half. Junior forward Stanley O'Neil, out of Holy Cross High School, kept his team afloat with 13 points in the half.

At halftime, St. John told his team the coaches would not allow them to lose. Senior leaders like O'Neil (16 points) also spoke out.

"I told the team we got to play like we are supposed to or we're going to get laughed at," O'Neil said. "We would have been laughed at if we lost this game. Good teams find a way to win and we did."

Everything said at the half appeared to get though as York came out alive with a 19-5 run to open the half. The Cardinals stymied the CCNY (10-15) offense by going to the press. The press led to a steal by O'Neil, who fed William Short (11 points) for a layup extending the lead to 51-37, the largest margin of the game. York shot 52 percent from the field in the second half.

But pesky CCNY wouldn't go away and it got Edwards, the Player of the Year in the CUNY conference, off the floor with 9:02 remaining, when he picked up his fourth foul. However, he returned with 4:32 remaining and the deficit was still the same as when he left at eight points.

Quincy Oudkerk, a 6-foot-9 sophomore center from Jamaica High School, filled in well for the foul-plagued Edwards. Oudkerk scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

"I knew Quincy could handle it," St. John said. "He stepped in for Neil and showed what he can do."

Roderick Burnett also helped on the glass with Edwards out grabbing 13 rebounds and scoring 12 points.

The Beavers cut the lead to 66-60 with 1:26 left on a layup by Mukhtar Conry, but that would be as close as they got. Edwards blocked two shots in the final minute to thwart the comeback. Edwards, averaging 15 points and nine rebounds, was below his average because of foul trouble. He finished with eight points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks. Edwards, always a deterrent to opposing shooters, averages 7.7 blocks per game to lead the nation.

"I tried to give us a lift with Neil in foul trouble," O'Neil said. "We have an inside and outside game. If one doesn't work we can go to the other."

CCNY All-Star Ralph Perez, averaging 18 points and nine rebounds, scored 17 points and grabbed eight boards, but shot only 5-for-19 from the field. Conry also scored 17 and Andrew Richards added 16 for the Beavers.

Burnett and O'Neil were named second team All-CUNYAC. Burnett averages nine points and five rebounds and O'Neil averages 13 points and four rebounds.

York will play Brooklyn College (14-9), who defeated John Jay in the quarters, in the semifinals.

Lehman 56, York 43. The Lady Cardinals could not follow the men's lead, and fell in the CUNY quarterfinals Sunday at the College of Staten Island. Kathy Santiago, CUNY Rookie of the Year, had 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists to lead Lehman. Desirae Ross had 18 points and Tania Bianco grabbed a season-high 18 boards for the Lightning (17-8). York (13-9) was led by Garrianne Brown, who scored 12 points. Tamara Taylor added nine points and 16 rebounds for the Lady Cardinals.

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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