The College of Staten Island men’s basketball team went down early but battled back against undefeated SUNY-Canton to win, 90-66. Tonight’s win makes it five in a row for the Dolphins who improved to 8-2 with the win while the Kangaroos suffered their first loss of the season and dropped to 9-1 overall. Tonight’s win also marks the second time in the fourteen year history of the Tournament of Heroes that the Dolphins secured the championship, winning the crown for the first time since 2013.
The Dolphins started the game down 9-0 as the Kangaroos exploded at the start of the game. Will Fonseca ended Staten Island’s scoring drought when he was able to slice to the basket and convert a layup for the first two points for the Dolphins. CSI was finally able to settle into the game and cut the lead down to just three with 11:33 left when Khaleeq Baum grabbed the offensive rebound and put it back in.
Sam Annorh, the star for the Kangaroos in the first game, found himself in early foul trouble and thus his first half minutes were cut to preserve him for the rest of the game. Annorh also picked up an early technical foul, as did CSI’s Frank Schettino in what was a heated first half of play.
Tournament MVP Thomas Delahanty had a monster game and put up a season high 20 points and recorded eight rebounds. Delahanty was also a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line as he was the beneficiary of free throws that the Dolphins acquired via technical fouls on two occasions.
Wesley Smith gave the Dolphins the lead with 10:25 left in the first half and CSI never looked back and only continued to extend their lead for the rest of the game. The Kangaroos would not go quietly as they kept it to single digits until Edin Bracic sank a half-time buzzer beater three from the corner to send the Dolphins into the locker room up 12, 50-38. Bracic would finish the game with 12 points on 4-5 shooting from three point range. As a team CSI finished a blistering 64% from the field in the first half, connecting on a perfect 8-8 from three-point range.
The Kangaroos did hold a 26-16 edge in points in the paint while the Dolphins held a 13-9 edge in points off of turnovers.
Staten Island would hold a double digit lead throughout the second half and would never allow the Kangaroos to get close to a comeback. Two Delahanty freebies pulled CSI up by 20 in the second stanza and CSI was on cruise control from there, powering inside for buckets while staying warm from the outside with jumpers from Khari Rollock, Khaleeq Baum and Vincent Dacunto. With both benches emptied, CSI took their biggest lead on a late Kevon Murphy lay-in before settling for the 24-point win.
SUNY-Canton came in to the tournament boasted the best defensive field goal percentage in the entire nation, but the Dolphins cut into the average, connecting on a solid 54.7% for the game and 69.2% from beyond the arc (9-13). Canton shot just 40% for the game. CSI was a more modest plus-two in the rebounding column, 38-36, and plus-four in the turnover column (14-10).
Fonseca led all scorers with 22 points, adding 3 rebounds, earning all-tournament honors. Delahanty pulled in a solid 20 points and eight rebounds on 7-11 shooting, good for the MVP performance. Romario Fletcher led the way for the Kangaroos with 18 points, adding six rebounds. Vonallen Pickett earned on to the all-tourney team with 10 points to go with his 23 points last night in a win over Connecticut.
In the Consolation leg of the tournament, Connecticut up-ended Westminster College, 90-80. The Camels saw a huge lead evaporate briefly in the second half before finishing on a 22-9 run to end the game. Westminster’s Cameron Pozsgai was named to the all-tournament team while Connecticut’s Zuri Pavlin earned on as well.
CSI will be back in action on Sunday when they travel to Brooklyn, NY to take on CUNYAC rivals Brooklyn College at 2:45.