Staten Island, NY | The College of Staten Island men’s basketball team led from start to finish tonight, putting plenty of cushion between them and visiting Bates College to secure a 95-80 win at The Tank as part of the 17th Annual Tournament of Heroes. The win landed CSI in the Championship Game tomorrow against Tufts University, a 92-78 winner over Gwynedd-Mercy University in their half of play. CSI lifted to 5-6 overall while the Bobcats fell to 2-8.
Despite the Bobcats’ best attempts to keep the game within reach, it was CSI that left little to doubt beginning from the opening whistle. A Chamald Martin lay-up got things started, and then a three-pointer by Stephen Flagg, followed by a driving lay-up from the senior prompted Bates to ask for time with the score 7-0. Bates returned the favor with a pair of buckets, but CSI exploded again to an 8-0 run, helped along by two Adeola Latunji baskets to stake the home side to a 15-4 lead less than six minutes into the first stanza.
The lead would hold through the first half. Another Latunji jumper from just inside the top of the arc gave CSI a 23-9 edge with 9:37 to go in the stanza, and after two Nick Lynch free-throws got Bates back down to within 10, CSI used another three from Flagg and then a basket from Christian Taylor to take a 15-point edge, 30-15, with 4:56 to go. Bates’ Andrew Snoddy scored his only points of the first half to cut CSI’s lead to 32-21, but CSI then ran to a 10-2 run, highlighted by back-to-back three’s from Latunji and Krystian Kopec to give CSI a 19-point lead before settling for a 44-28 advantage at the half.
The Bobcats, who struggled from the floor and at the arc all evening caught some fire in the early stages of the second, and a Lynch jumper cut CSI’s lead to 49-36 a little under four minutes into the second half. In a recurring theme, however, CSI had an answer. Sophomore Rigaud Destime went on a personal seven-point tear, helping CSI to a 15-5 run to secure their biggest lead at the time, 62-41 with 13:16 to play.
With time for perhaps one last punch, Snoddy put the Bobcats on his back en route to 19 second-half points, and cut CSI’s deficit to 14, 71-57, with just over nine minutes to play. But CSI was up to the task again, popping off a 7-2 run capped by a Nicholas Taylor three off of a Destime steal. Bates would not cut the lead to less than 14 from there, but CSI would empty the bench late, cruising to the 15-point win.
CSI, which shot 54% for the game (34-63) and 55% from three-point range (11-20), were led by Latunji’s 23 points to go with eight rebounds. Christian Taylor would add 20 with a game-high 14 rebounds while Flagg and Destime each added 13 points. Destime scored a career high seven assists with Flagg adding 10 boards for the double-double. Bates was led by Snoddy’s 21 points while Jeff Spellman posted 13 points and Nick Lynch, 12. CSI out-rebounded Bates, 46-31.
CSI will play Tufts University in tomorrow’s Final. The Jumbos were up a majority of the way in their tilt before the Griffins posed a rigorous second-half comeback which ultimately saw them take a 63-62 second-half lead. Tufts, however, answered with a 21-2 run from there, ultimately coasting in the end to a 92-78 final.
The Tournament of Heroes at CSi serves to honor the memories of Terrance Aiken, Scott Davidson, and Tom Hannafin, three former CSI basketball players killed on September 11, 2001. A tribute to the three fallen players took place prior to tip-off of CSI’s contest against Bates.