George Beamon's 27 points led five Manhattan players in double figures in Jaspers' 90-72 win over Niagara, their fifth consecutive victory. (Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated)
Just over two weeks ago, Manhattan lost their second straight game for the first time this season when the Jaspers were defeated by reigning MAAC champion Iona. Since that night in New Rochelle sixteen days ago, not only has Steve Masiello's team not tasted defeat, each of their victories has been more impressive than the one that preceded it.
Using a 59 percent shooting effort from the field and five double-figure performances led by 27 points from George Beamon, Manhattan's latest win was a wire-to-wire tour de force, a 90-72 rout of Niagara that lifted the Jaspers to 19-6 overall and 12-4 in MAAC play after this, their fifth consecutive victory.
"It wasn't 'focus on Niagara,'" said senior forward Rhamel Brown when asked about the team's pregame mindset. "It was focusing more on what we do. What we do is team defense."
In addition to Beamon, freshman Rich Williams added 14 points, while Ashton Pankey and Brown contributed 12 and 10, respectively. Furthermore, Shane Richards had an 11-point outing behind three three-pointers, and is now 11-of-21 from beyond the arc over Manhattan's last four games.
The Jaspers took control early after Brown scored the first four points of the game, and after Niagara pulled within two with 14:10 remaining in the first half, Manhattan kicked into another gear with a 16-5 run to take a 25-12 advantage that remained in double digits for nearly the remainder of the game.
"You know, I thought we took care of a team that, believe it or not, has been playing as well as anyone in the conference," Masiello said after the game. "They had us beat up there, they had Iona beat, and I thought they played Canisius as well as anyone. I thought we took care of business, and it started on the defensive end."
Manhattan held Niagara to a 25 percent (8-for-32) shooting effort in the first half, and although Antoine Mason scored 17 points for the Purple Eagles in the losing effort, the Jaspers did a stellar job of defending the nation's leading scorer for most of the afternoon in the preseason MAAC favorite's final tuneup before road games against Monmouth and Siena later this week.
"We've just got to keep it going, no letups," said Beamon with regard to Manhattan's recent winning streak. "We're not taking anybody lightly."