George Beamon's underrated brand of basketball came to Brooklyn today, with his 22 points being instrumental in Manhattan's overtime win over Buffalo. (Photo courtesy of the New York Post)
One year ago tomorrow, Manhattan came undone in their Barclays Center debut, as a technical foul assessed to head coach Steve Masiello swayed the momentum of a game the Jaspers looked to be in control of, yet ultimately lost to South Carolina. Just four minutes and 55 seconds into today's game 364 days later, it looked as if history would repeat itself after RaShawn Stores received a technical of his own during an altercation with a Buffalo player.
There was one difference, though: Manhattan had George Beamon today.
The senior superstar continued his return to the MAAC elite this afternoon, scoring 22 points in an 84-81 overtime victory over Bobby Hurley's Bulls, a win that the Jaspers (9-2) had to gut out after Michael Alvarado and Donovan Kates were ejected for leaving the bench to break up the aforementioned scuffle.
"I couldn't be more proud of our team," Masiello said after a game in which Manhattan trailed 75-68 with 45 seconds remaining in regulation. "It's one of the greatest wins we've had since I've been here. From a mental toughness standpoint, I thought we bent, bent, bent, but we never broke."
Such resiliency was probably not in the forecast in the final minute of the second half, as Buffalo went on an 8-1 run to take their seven-point lead behind 20 points off the bench from Shannon Evans. However, Shane Richards emerged from a relatively quiet showing with a three-pointer on the ensuing possession to cut Manhattan's deficit to four points before the Bulls extended their lead on a Jarod Oldham free throw.
Playing without a timeout, it looked as if Manhattan squandered their chance to remain in the game after Rich Williams missed a three-pointer with 22 seconds left, but Rhamel Brown scooped up the miss and found a streaking George Beamon, who converted a layup and drew a foul in the process. Beamon's free throw pulled Manhattan within two before the Jaspers sent Evans to the charity stripe on the other end, where he made one of two shots to keep the door open for the preseason favorite to win the MAAC.
With 5.4 seconds remaining, Richards was at his most valuable, drawing a foul in the act of shooting a three that would have tied the game at 77. The sophomore calmly made each free throw to pull the Jaspers even, leaving Buffalo with a chance to win at the buzzer, but Evans' jumper from the free throw line bounced off the front rim.
After missing most of the first half due to two early fouls, Rhamel Brown made his presence felt with a huge deflection of a Buffalo pass in the extra session, with a Beamon free throw giving Manhattan a 78-77 lead two minutes into the overtime period. Following another Brown steal, Beamon put the dagger into the backs of the Bulls with a three from the left baseline to put the Jaspers ahead 81-77.
"He makes me a better coach," Masiello said of Beamon. "He's getting on himself before I even say a word. He could care less about scoring, all he cares about is rebounding and winning."
Beamon picked up a big rebound with Manhattan ahead 81-78 with 1:38 to go in overtime, but was unable to capitalize as Joshua Freelove tied the game at 81 with a three of his own. Two empty possessions later, Buffalo's Will Regan turned it over in his own end, as Williams converted a layup to put Manhattan up two, a lead the Jaspers extended on the first of two Stores free throws. However, the junior guard's miss gave the Bulls an opportunity to send the game to a second overtime, but Evans' three at the buzzer fell short.
Manhattan now takes an eleven-day hiatus before opening 2014 with the resumption of MAAC play, with the Jaspers' next contest being a January 2nd road trip across the Hudson River to take on John Dunne and Saint Peter's University.