Michael Alvarado filled void left by George Beamon into career day, erupting for 33 points in Manhattan's 86-79 overtime win. (Photo courtesy of Manhattan College)
The name Michael, among the most common of those ascribed to males in the United States, is derived from the question "Who could be like God?"
Manhattan's resident archangel answered that riddle this afternoon with the game of his life.
After helping engineer a comeback from a nine-point deficit in the final five minutes of regulation to send an upset-minded Marist team to overtime, Michael Alvarado singlehandedly became the driving force as the game went on at Draddy Gym, adding nine of the Jaspers' 13 points in the extra session en route to a career-high 33 as Manhattan (12-3) overcame the absence of George Beamon to defeat Jeff Bower's Red Foxes 86-79, improving to 5-1 in MAAC play three days removed from a loss to Quinnipiac that stands as the only game that the preseason conference favorites have lost away from Riverdale.
"My goal was just to be aggressive," Alvarado said after his 13-of-17 masterpiece. "My mindset wasn't to score, it was how many times I could get Shane (Richards) an open shot, could I get Rhamel (Brown) in position so he could finish easily. I just took advantage."
Trailing 66-57 with 5:21 remaining in regulation, it looked as if Manhattan would falter in their first game without Beamon, who addressed the team before the game as he looked on from the bench with his sprained right shoulder in a sling. Following five points from Emmy Andujar to cut the deficit to four, Marist answered with a layup from Chavaughn Lewis, whose 25 points paced the Red Foxes in a losing effort. From there, it was Alvarado's time to shine, as he scored the next four for the Jaspers to pull them within two with 3:24 to go. After a Lewis layup, Rich Williams put his stamp on the comeback with a clutch three-pointer to make it a one-point game with 2:19 on the clock, and then tied it at 73 on a breakaway dunk with 1:15 left in regulation. Marist had a chance to win at the buzzer, but Lewis' errant pass to Phillip Lawrence resulted in a desperation heave that came nowhere near the net.
Jay Bowie got the Red Foxes on the board first in the extra session, but a Williams three with 3:00 left in overtime gave Manhattan the lead for good at 76-75. Bowie's missed layup on the ensuing possession led to a driving basket for Alvarado, who broke the game open with a personal 7-2 run over the next 2:22 to provide the Jaspers with a six-point cushion that eventually became insurmountable for the visitors. Soon after, the man who trusts Alvarado with the management of his offense rained glowing praise upon the senior floor general.
"That might be one of the best performances I've ever seen from a college basketball player just putting the team on his back," head coach Steve Masiello said of Alvarado's effort. "I love this kid. He's everything I want in a player. He means the world to me."
Manhattan remains home this week for their next contest, a Thursday night showdown with Jimmy Patsos and Siena, but until then, they will enjoy a potentially season-defining win.
"Adversity reveals who you are at all times," Masiello stated. "This team showed what they're all about today...they kind of did it during the year at Columbia and at the Barclays Center, but we had George. Today, we did it without George. We basically did it with next year's team. The character of the team really impressed me. When you could survive when you're supposed to go down, you're going to live a long time."