The College of Staten Island women’s basketball team scored a share of the CUNYAC Regular Season Championship tonight, scoring a victory over league leaders Lehman College, 64-57, in their CUNYAC finale played in the Bronx, NY. Tiebreakers will be used to iron out postseason tournament seeding, but coupled with a victory by Brooklyn College, the win by the Dolphins brought them even with the Lightning and Bulldogs at 13-3 in conference play, which spelled the Dolphins’ 17th regular season title.
In a game dictated by momentum, CSI used a huge surge to score a double-digit lead at the half, only to see it overturned in the fourth quarter thanks to a great home team response. Ironically, on a night when the Dolphins suffered from the free throw line, CSI used big baskets coupled with free throws late for the final surge, resulting in the win. CSI improved to 17-7 overall and 13-3 in the conference, while the Lightning fell to 18-7, 13-3, respectively.
CSI came out firing well in the game, using the first 3:30 to score a 10-2 advantage, helped by five Christina Pasaturo points. CSI slowed from there but kept up the defensive intensity, ultimately settling on a 14-10 advantage at the end of the first quarter. But the home squad started to find its groove and used the tail end of the first and beginning of the second to score an 8-0 run to take a 16-14 edge with 7:18 to go in the half. Karrin Walker aided the spurt with a couple of interior baskets.
From there, however, the half belonged to CSI. A lay-up by Angelique Price and then a steal by the freshman led to another transition basket that would ultimately play out to a 19-3 CSI run to end the half. Fifteen of the Dolphins 19 points in the run came in the half’s final 2:39, headed by two Nicole Imbesi lay-ups and another bucket plus a three-pointer by Pasaturo. Lehman’s three by Jennifer Navarro with 12 seconds left snapped a 7:06 drought by the Lightning, as CSI was able to go up 33-19, at intermission.
The halftime rest proved beneficial for Lehman, as they quickly whittled the lead down to single digits, 36-28, with a 9-3 run in the first 2:30Amani Lightbourne went on a personal four point tear in the tally. Later, after CSI went ahead again, 40-28, LC went on a 10-0 burner spanning four minutes. Free throws by Samantha Flecker stop the bleeding, but CSI entered the fourth quarter up only a possession, 42-40.
A Yasmine Jones lay-up as the first bucket of the fourth tied the game at 42-42, and from there, the game was up for grabs. CSI quickly responded with a Flecker basket and then a three-point play by Victoria Gallinaro, but then Lehman caught fire again to the tune of a 10-3 run over the next three minutes. CSI missed a trio of three’s until Flecker notched a deuce to get CSI back on track, tying the game at 52-52. Lightbourne tallied again for Lehman, but Flecker again responded with a bucket and converted a free-throw to give CSI back the lead at 55-54 with 4:40 to go, and this time, the Dolphins would never relinquish.
After two LC misses and a turnover, Flecker notched another free-throw, and then after both teams misfired from the field on their next two possessions, Pasaturo buried a three-pointer at 1:22 to give CSI a more comfortable 59-54 edge. After another LC miss, the Lightning started to foul, and after starting the game out 10-24 from the line (42%), CSI hit on their final three freebies to cushion the lead in the final stages before scoring a lay-up with four seconds left to give them the seven point win in a game that seemed far closer than the score would indicate.
CSI was led by Pasaturo’s 22 points on 9-18 shooting, adding 9 rebounds and four assists. Flecker posted a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Gallinaro finished with an even 10 points. LC was paced by Amely Del Rosario’s 14 points, while Walker finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds. CSI shot 42% for the evening (23-55), while the Lightning connected on just 34.4% (22-64). Both teams committed 23 turnovers while Lehman held the edge in rebounds, 47-38. Neither team was particularly effective from the free-throw line as CSI finished 13-27 (48%), while Lehman registered 10-19 (52%).
The win insures that the Dolphins will be seeding among the top three teams in the eight-team CUNYAC Postseason Tournament, which kicks off on Thursday (seeds, five through eight play on Thursday). Unofficially, with tiebreakers, CSI will likely be seeded third, although the CUNYAC will officially announce the seedings on Wednesday morning.