Flashback Friday looks at the top moments from the 2016-17 athletic year at the College of Staten Island. It was oh so close, but coming in at No. 2 is the sensational CUNYAC Championship performance of the CSI women’s basketball team in a win over Brooklyn College. It was the College’s first conference championship in the sport in 12 years.
#2 – Women’s Basketball champions again after 12 seasons
Date: February 24, 2017
Who: Women’s Basketball
Where: Nat Holman Gymnasium, New York, NY
What Happened: The College of Staten Island women’s basketball team rolled into the CUNYAC Championship this season with history clearly not standing in their corner. The team had one of the longest championship droughts at 12 years, and after sitting in first place most of the season, dropped down to third place in the standings with a couple of late conference losses, one of them against Brooklyn College, the same team that bounced them from the playoffs last year. In what is normally a tight, defensive game against their arch-rivals, the Finals lived up to the billing, but the Dolphins were able to seize a modest, 26-18, lead at the half. Poor free-throw shooting and a dedicated effort to challenge shots proved to be CSI’s calling card, as they held Brooklyn to just 26.3% shooting, while putting up 15 steals that helped fuel 24 BC turnovers and a +8 in that department. CSI junior Christina Pasaturo was named Most Valuable Player, leading all with 16 points, the final ones breaking the school’s single season scoring record. The win lifted CSI into the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament, and there Pasaturo added to the total while breaking the single season three-point record as well. It was their first trip to the national tourney since 2005.
Q&A…with Christina Pasaturo
Christina, it seemed like going into this season you guys were healthy and really eyeing that championship. How important was that goal for the team in 2016-17? Going into every season the goal is always a championship, and the past few seasons including this one we haven’t been exactly fortunate with staying healthy so to keep the focus on that goal throughout the season despite some of our health issues was crucial in the winning process.
You personally got off to a bit of a slow start before catching fire. Tell me a bit about those first few weeks and how a shooter like you gets back into rhythm? The beginning of the season was definitely extremely frustrating not only in a personal sense but I really felt like I was letting down the team. I believe we are all out on the floor with one common goal but we all play a different role and I just wasn’t doing my part to secure victories. It seemed that no matter how many hours I spent in the gym taking thousands of shots and working on my game I just wasn’t fixing anything so that also had me worried, but as bad as the games were, Coach (Shanahan) always told me to keep shooting and kept supporting me and despite the frustrations I kept working at it and eventually the ball started to fall in the basket.
Against York College towards midseason you started an unprecedented streak of scoring 20+ points in games and the team really caught fire. Were you aware of the kind of numbers you were putting up, and why was the team having so much more success? The only thing I’m ever really cognizant of is whether we are winning or losing games. If I am scoring more it’s typically because the team is playing better as a whole so no, I was not paying attention to the numbers but more so that the team was just at an elevated level of play.
You guys were sitting in first place in the CUNYAC, but you ran into a bit of a wall against Brooklyn and Lehman to close the season, dropping your postseason position. Looking back on it now, was that good thing for the team, a bit of a wake-up call? Looking back, not that you ever want to lose any game, but it was less of a wake up call and more of getting the bad games out of our system. Brooklyn and Lehman were extremely tough competitors and not that it would have been impossible but it would have been very challenging to go 4-0 over that two week span especially with with some of the roster matchups we had.
Getting set for the postseason, you knew that every team would be tough. After getting through Hunter, you guys absolutely blitzed by Lehman in the Semifinals. That took a lot of people by surprise. Were you surprised by how the team performed that game? Beating Lehman by the margin we beat them by in the semi’s was extremely surprising to me. Not only did Lehman have a very tough team with size way larger then ours, but they also had one of the top scorers in the country on their side. Thankfully, we showed up for all four quarters of that game and did a lot of the little things right and that really helped us take the game in the fashion we did.
One thing about playing Brooklyn, those games are always so defensive and low scoring, and that’s who you matched up with in the Final. Why are those games so defensive and low scoring in your opinion? When we play each other it is always a very physical and intense matchup and I’m sure it can be attributed to a multitude of things but it always comes down to defense is what is going to win those big games against truly talented teams. They score extremely well in the paint so gearing our defense to slow that down I feel helps slow their entire offense down. The physicality of these type of games I’m sure keeps the games more on the low scoring side and even something as simple as nerves when it comes to these rivalries or big games has to do with it. They do a good job as well preparing for us and knowing the keys to the premise of our offense.
Last year in the playoffs against Brooklyn, they got off to such a great start but this year you guys turned the table and really got out to a big lead early that they struggled to come back from. How important was that start for you guys? Last year, although we fought hard the entire game sometimes holes are just too big to come out from, especially in a big game like that. This year having a lead was of course a benefit but we knew we could never sit comfortably and it was a battle the entire forty minutes. This time they were the ones who had less mistakes to make so that’s where the lead really came into play and it was crucial in winning the game.
You guys end up winning it after a failed BC comeback and you were named MVP. How great is it to earn that distinction knowing that you and the team delivered the school its first Women’s Basketball title in 12 years? Honestly, just winning the championship was enough for me. Of course I was extremely honored to win MVP but especially games like that it is always a team effort. You don’t win a championship with one player. It was extremely meaningful to be able to get coach his first championship. He goes above and beyond for us so just to see the look on his face after the final buzzer sounded made it all worth wild.
You also broke the school’s single season scoring record that game, and you would go on to break the 3-point record in the NCAA’s. I know you are not aware of these things as they happen, but now that you have had time to reflect on it, what does a record like that mean to you? I feel extremely lucky that my coach and teammates put me in positions where it is even possible to break records but the records are never my intentions. They would be a lot less meaningful without the wins to come along with it.
So now heading into your senior year, the team brings back potentially all of its roster and now you guys will be labeled a clear favorite. How does that sit with you and what are your personal and team expectations for 2017-18? To me, there is no favorite especially in this conference. There are constant curveballs and roster changes and especially our team, our roster is usually more injured than healthy so I don’t ever look at a game in an overconfident manner. As far as goals it is always to bring home a championship. That’s the only goal I have in mind but this year especially it would be nice to go as far as possible in the NCAA if we are fortunate enough to make it back. I would consider getting to the sweet 16 the number one thought in my head for the upcoming season aside from winning the CUNY first of course.