The College of Staten Island women’s basketball team used a balanced attack, strong free-throw shooting, and tenacious defense, forcing 27 turnovers in a gritty, 65-63, win over Rutgers-Camden as part of semifinal play of the ECAC Metro NY/NJ / Upstate Postseason Tournament.  CSI improved to 19-8, and will move on to face top-seeded Brooklyn College, a big winner earlier in the evening against Centenary College (NJ).

In a game that featured four ties, five lead changes, and a pair of big comebacks, CSI had the final surge and kept the pace, holding modest two point leads at halftime, at the end of the third quarter, and at the final buzzer.  A total of six players finished in double figures between the two teams, led by CSI’s Christina Pasaturo’s 16 markers.

CSI led by five at the end of the first quarter, 19-14, finishing the quarter on a 17-7 run.  A 10-0 run within that bigger finish gave CSI a 12-7 lead, powered by two Pasaturo baskets, including a three, and jumpers by seniors Victoria Gallinaro and Jamie Pifalo.  With 1:52 left in the first quarter, CSI missed their first free-throw of the game, but it would be the only miss the rest of the way, as CSI was crisp from the free-throw line all night.

In the second quarter, CSI rolled ahead by a game-high 11 points, 30-19.  That was sparked by a 7-0 CSI run that featured five points from freshman Rosa Perone.  The Raptors, however, would not go quietly, and two Michelle Obasi lay-ups highlighted an 11-2 RU run to end the quarter with CSI holding a slim, 32-30, edge.

The Raptors would continue the sterling run to open the third.  After an Obasi lay-up tied the game, RU took the lead on a Gabby Greene three, and later, back-to-back buckets by Kamari Talley gave the Raptors a commanding 42-35 edge with 4:22 to go in the third, completing a 23-5 Raptors run spanning over 10 minutes of the game.

But CSI would wake up just in time.  Using suffocating defense to force turnovers, the Dolphins were able to net transition baskets, and ended the quarter on a 12-3 run.  CSI went 5-5 from the line over that stretch, adding a Nicole Imbesi three-pointer.

Greene gave RU back the lead with a three to start the fourth and from there the game teetered back and forth.  With 3:35 to go, the Raptors got a huge momentum boost, when Caroline Santiago completed a three-point play to give the two seeds a 60-59 advantage.  CSI’s Pasaturo, however, buried a three on the ensuing possession, and after RU tied it up at 62-62, Gallinaro nailed a three of her own to make it 65-62.

Defense took over from there. RU added a freebie to make it 65-63 with 2:11 left but no one would score from there.  CSI forced three missed shots by Rutgers in that stretch, and Pifalo was able to steal the ball from RU’s Greene as time expired to insure the win.

Both teams shot an identical 40.3% from the floor, with RU going 7-18 from downtown and CSI going 6-24.  The Dolphins however went 9-10 from the line, while the Raptors struggled at just 6-13.  RU out-rebounded CSI, 48-31, but the Dolphins countered with a plus-9 in the turnover column, forcing 27 RU turnovers.

Pasaturo added seven assists to her 16 points.  Samantha Flecker added 15 for the Dolphins with a team-high seven rebounds, while Gallinaro finished with 12 points and five rebounds.  RU-Camden got 15 points each from Greene, Santiago and Obasi, with Santiago amassing 16 rebounds.

The win by the Dolphins sets them up for a fourth game of the season against Brooklyn College.  Both teams won on their respective home floors during the regular season, and BC beat CSI, 76-70, last week as part of the CUNYAC Postseason Semifinal round.  This will be their first-ever meeting in ECAC play.  Tip off is 1:00pm tomorrow at Brooklyn College.