The College of Staten Island men’s basketball team did a lot to impress this weekend, leaving Middletown, Connecticut with their first championship in considerable time, taking down host Wesleyan University, 85-78, to claim top honors at the Inn at Middletown Tip-Off Tournament. The Dolphins did it by overcoming a series of deficits, staying true to their determination and strengths. CSI improved to 2-0 with the win, while the Cardinals leveled to 1-1.
In a game that swung like a pendulum the entire way, CSI and WU wrestled for early momentum, as the lead changed hands six times in the opening five minutes of play. A Matthew Van Manen lay-in at 15:26 off of a Cardinals turnover gave CSI a modest 9-6 edge at 15:26, but Derick Beresford answered right back with a triple to knot the score a few ticks later. Less than a minute later, a Matt HoGan drive and lay-up in the paint gave WU an 11-9 lead that it would not relinquish again in the first stanza.
The home team led by as many as nine points, 31-22, with 5:49, but still, the Dolphins always stayed within distance, coupling timely baskets with miscues by the Cardinals to stay within striking distance. In a series of shifts, however, CSI couldn’t fully overcome the Cardinals attack, often coming to within one possession, but never able to tie or take the lead. Down eight with 1:31 to go, CSI did deliver a 9-4 run to end the first half frame, a run that featured five points from junior Dale Taranto, who just missed a three-pointer from half-court at the buzzer that could have tied the game. Instead, Wesleyan took a 44-41 lead into the lockers.
In an almost carbon copy of their game against Ursinus a night earlier, CSI came out hot in the second half, and after a pair of Thomas Tibbs freebies got CSI to within one, a Van Manen lay-up knotted the score at 49-49 with 16:17 to go. That started a set-up to a great finish. Like two heavyweights the teams traded shots with Wesleyan’s Beresford and Sasha Brown leading the charge, countered by CSI’s Jordan Young and Bloochy Magliore, who combined for almost 30 second half points.
The game was tied four times from there before CSI staked themselves a 65-62 lead on a Magliore trey with 8:33 to go. WU fired right back to take a 66-65 lead on a Matt Hogan basket, before Young countered for CSI to get the lead back for good at 7:36. Young and Magliore would then combine for the next 16 CSI points, the most emphatic coming on a Magliore dunk at 1:37 that gave the Dolphins a 79-72 stranglehold. CSI went 4-for-6 from the charity stripe inside the final minute to put the game on ice.
CSI shot a blistering 58% for the game (29-50), overcoming a 17-4 deficit on the offensive glass. The Dolphins shot 64.5% from the free-throw line (20-31) while WU was plagued with inefficiency at the stripe, shooting just 35.3% (6-17). Despite holding an overall rebounding edge of 39-27, Wesleyan committed 17 turnovers.
The Dolphins where led by Magliore’s 18 points, adding six rebounds. Tibbs contributed 17 points earning Tournament All-Star honors after putting up 23 markers the night before. Young finished with 16 points, with Taranto garnering 13 points, also earning All-Tourney honors. Frosh Van Manen was exceptional, posting 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds and five steals. Wesleyan was led by Beresford’s 19 points and Brown’s 18, while Glen Thomas led all scorers with 11 rebounds.
The Dolphins will travel back to Staten Island tonight and will get ready for their home opener on Tuesday night at 7:30pm, when they host Rochester Institute of Technology.