After a disappointing road loss, Steve Masiello is all smiles again after Manhattan rebounded with 67-51 win over Rider to remain tied for MAAC lead. (Photo courtesy of the New York Daily News)
Following his team's surprising loss to a Fairfield roster that was previously winless in conference play, Steve Masiello joked that Manhattan's ensuing practice would be so intense to where security would have to perform an ID check at the entrance.
Needless to say, the Jaspers recovered, and in the third-year coach's own words, "message received."
Playing for the first time since their 71-67 defeat at the hands of Sydney Johnson's Stags in Bridgeport six nights ago, Manhattan took the court with a sense of urgency as well as a returning leader, as George Beamon led all scorers with 21 points in his first game after a two-week absence to fuel the Jaspers' 67-51 win over Rider, who had emerged from Draddy Gym victorious in each of the past two seasons.
"I wrote on the board tonight, 'back to basics,'" Masiello said after Manhattan (14-4, 7-2 MAAC) held the visiting Broncs (9-9, 5-4 MAAC) to just 27 percent (13-for-48) shooting from the field, "and that's we did tonight on the defensive end. We rebounded the basketball, we blocked shots, and we locked down the three-point line and had a good field goal percentage defense. That's who we have been since we got here."
The Jasper defense was suffocating throughout the night, holding Rider to just four made field goals in the first half, not allowing the Broncs' first successful shot until Anthony Myles' jumper with 11:50 left in the opening stanza pulled the visitors within nine at 13-4 on a night where Manhattan led wire-to-wire, leaving the court having matched their win total from last year's 14-18 campaign that ended with a loss to bitter adversary Iona in the MAAC championship.
After leading 33-17 at the intermission, Manhattan nearly squandered their double-digit advantage, as a 12-0 Rider run over the first 5:06 of the second half turned an apparent runaway into a four-point game. However, the 33-29 margin was as close as it would get the rest of the way, as a 23-6 Jasper run quickly and emphatically shut the door on any hope of a comeback by the Broncs.
Michael Alvarado, whose load was lightened considerably with the return of Beamon, still provided worthy contributions with 12 points and seven assists to go with 11 points and seven rebounds from Ashton Pankey, while Daniel Stewart paced the visitors with 17 points.
Manhattan plays its second game in three days when the Jaspers welcome Quinnipiac into Riverdale in a 2 p.m. tipoff Sunday afternoon. The Bobcats, who were soundly defeated by Iona tonight, may once again be without junior forward Ousmane Drame, who missed tonight's affair with a sprained knee.