Staten Island, NY | On an afternoon when the College of Staten Island celebrated Alumni Day for men’s basketball and junior Christian Taylor eclipsed 1,000 career points, the Dolphins put their recent loss on Wednesday out of their memory with a strong, 85-68, win over visiting Medgar Evers College this afternoon as part of CUNYAC play at The Tank. CSI lifted to 13-7 overall and 9-2 in CUNYAC play, while the Cougars dropped to 7-12 overall and 6-5 in conference, as they fell to the Dolphins for the second time this season.
In a high-scoring first-half, MEC got on top with a Jafet Thomas inside lay-up, but from there, CSI used their zone defense and strong inside play to frustrate the Cougars and grad the lead it would never surrender. It started with an immediate 8-0 run for CSI as Christian Taylor nailed a pair of baskets while Chamald Martin added an inside lay-in. After a Joancarlo Bonilla three cut CSI’s lead to just 13-12 with 14:32 to go in the half, CSI responded with another 8-0 rip, guided by a pair of Stephen Flagg baskets to pace play.
After a trade of baskets, CSI’s Andrew Kartalis buried a jumper that gave CSI their first double-digit lead at 11:24 of the opening half, 25-14, but once again, MEC would not go quietly, and used a numbing 13-3 run over the next three minutes to again draw to within a point. Justin Sutton did most of the damage, posting four baskets, two of them three-pointers, to help him finish with a game-high 18 points at the half. In that run, however, CSI’s Christian Taylor became the 32nd player in CSI history to record over 1,000 points, doing at the free-throw line, giving CSI what was a 26-17 lead. CSI was able to weather the storm after the MEC run. They would answer immediately with a Rigaud Destime three, and later, with 3:10 left to go in the half, CSI used an 11-5 finish to score a 52-42 lead at the break. The run was highlighted by an Adeola Latunji dunk, a three by Kartalis and a running lay-up by Taylor.
MEC would score the first two baskets to open the second half, as Sutton and Bonilla continued to pace the visitors, but CSI answered the call again with a 6-0 response capped by a Latunji drive to make it 60-46 with 15:22 to go. After MEC connected on a jumper, CSI went on another 6-0 spurt to put the Dolphins more comfortably ahead, 66-48, and from there Medgar Evers could never again cut CSI’s lead to single digits. Another Sutton jumper threatened CSI and cut the deficit to 71-57, but CSI ansered back with a trio of baskets, the final one a dunk by newcomer Jospeh Zieris, who dunked one in emphatically to improve CSI’s lead to 77-57 with 5:29 to go. CSI would expand the lead to as many as 22, before a late flurry pulled MEC to within the 85-68 final.
CSI’s balanced scoring attack was led by Latunji’s 16 points, and he would add 11 boards to complete the double-double. Christian Taylor finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. Flagg scored 11 points, and so did Zieris, a first-year junior, in his healthy debut, adding six rebounds, and a block in just 16 minutes of play.Sutton led all scorers for Medgar Evers with a heavy-handed 31 points, adding a game-high six steals. Bonilla was the only other double-digit scorer for MEC with 12 points, adding three rebounds.
CSI shot a healthy 49.2% from the floor, and 80% from the free-throw line (12-15). The Cougars finished just 25-74 from the field (33.8%) and were a chilly 7-26 from three-point range (26.9%). CSI committed 20 turnovers to MEC’s 14, but the Dolphins did take advantage of a 52-37 win in the rebounding column.
Now back in the win column, CSI will look to keep it going when they travel to face York College on Tuesday, January 29, at 7:30pm. CSI defeated the Cardinals, 91-70, the last time the two teams locked up on Staten Island, and the game will complete the season series between the two sides.