Michael Alvarado and Rhamel Brown live to fight another day after combining for 35 points in Manhattan's 72-58 win over Saint Peter's. (Photo courtesy of USA Today)
Manhattan College has been defined by three players since Steve Masiello returned to Riverdale in 2011. Therefore, it stands to reason that two of them would be the most integral parts to the Jaspers' first step toward a championship.
On a night where leading scorer George Beamon was held to just six points and missed seven of his eight field goal attempts, his senior classmates made up for it as Manhattan (23-7) advanced to the semifinals of the MAAC tournament, getting 18 points and 10 rebounds from Rhamel Brown, as well as 17 points from backcourt partner Michael Alvarado in a 72-58 victory over Saint Peter's. With the win, the Jaspers advance to face either Quinnipiac or Niagara.
"This win is about having great seniors who I think are as good as any seniors in the country," Masiello said after a game in which Brown and Alvarado keyed a 14-4 run early in the second half to pull away from a scrappy Peacocks team that held Manhattan to just six assists, forcing 15 turnovers.
"I just think we stayed together," said Brown, playing his first game since being surprisingly left off the conference's first team. "We've been in that situation before many times with a lot of teams."
Saint Peter's did their best to make sure the Jaspers would earn their victory tonight, as Chris Burke's three-pointer with 6:38 to go cut the Manhattan lead to six at 58-52. An Emmy Andujar three-point play the old-fashioned way stretched the cushion back to nine before Brown and Alvarado combined to score the final 12 points of the game for Manhattan to punctuate a 14-3 run that saw Brown pull down four rebounds in heeding his coach's instructions.
"We have a ton of guys who could go one-on-one and go into attack mode," Masiello explained. "I wanted to make sure we had a paint touch mentality."
Manhattan outscored Saint Peter's 34-28 in the paint, and outrebounded the Peacocks 33-27, while also shooting 22 more free throws than John Dunne's team. Marvin Dominique led the Peacocks with 14 points in the losing effort.
At the time we publish this, Quinnipiac and Niagara are tied at 28 with 3:42 remaining in the first half, with the winner to meet the Jaspers at 7 p.m. tomorrow.