Emmy Andujar came within two assists of triple-double in Manhattan's 60-38 win in home opener over Marist. (Photo courtesy of The Quadrangle, Manhattan College's student newspaper)
In Manhattan's six games to start the season, a number of factors plagued Steve Masiello's Jaspers to the point where his team was never 100 percent in any game to this point.
Today, everyone was back, and firing on all cylinders.
Playing their home opener after a road trip lasting the entire month of November and first week of December, Manhattan stepped on the accelerator early with the first 12 points of the game and never let up, using a 13-man rotation to overpower Marist (1-7, 0-2 MAAC) by the final of 60-38, moving the Jaspers to 2-5 on the season and evening their conference record at 1-1.
"I was really excited just to see our roster healthy," a relieved Masiello stated after his team held the visiting Red Foxes to a 20 percent shooting rate from the field, only allowing eight field goals in 41 attempts. "For me, that was everything just to see 13 guys that were able to play. It makes us a much better team."
The depth on the Manhattan roster only yielded two double-figure scorers, one of which was Emmy Andujar, who carved up the Marist defense to the tune of 15 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists, falling only two helpers short of what would have been the program's first-ever triple-double.
"We don't look at the score," the senior forward said. "We just keep playing. It would have been real nice to get it. (the triple-double) I think Rhamel (Brown) should have got it last year." "He'll get it," a confident Masiello assured the media after the game.
In addition to Andujar, Rich Williams added a season-high 13 points in his first start of the season, draining a pair of NBA-range threes to help the cause in a game Manhattan led from wire to wire.
"I'm in there just for my energy," the sophomore from Brooklyn interjected, "just to pick everybody else up. I'm just trying to stay aggressive."
The Jaspers were the epitome of aggression throughout the day, shutting Marist out through the first 8:29 of the game, a span in which the Red Foxes missed their first nine shots before K.J. Lee's layup broke the ice and got the visiting team on the board. It was the second straight game in which Manhattan started with a stingy defense, not allowing Fairfield to score on their first ten shots Friday night; only this time, the Jaspers did not let up, as their press defense left Marist overmatched more often than not.
"Fatigue was not a factor tonight for us," Masiello proudly declared. "We were constantly able to throw fresh bodies in. People don't understand how big of an effect that is in this style of play. I think tonight was a by-product of our health."
Phillip Lawrence's 15 points led Marist (1-7) in a losing effort where the Red Foxes were without the services of shooting guard Chavaughn Lewis, who sprained his left ankle Thursday night against Monmouth, missing the first game of his career for a roster already lacking his backcourt partners in Khallid Hart and T.J. Curry. However, the biggest takeaway was Manhattan being able to right the ship following a pair of crushing defeats at the hands of George Mason and Fairfield.
"We needed a win," Masiello bluntly assessed. "People don't believe this, and you could ask the guys, I haven't been too down about the losses. For me, it's just about getting healthy, and once we get healthy, I know where this train's going. People could say what they want. I know where this team will be in February and March, so as long as we stay healthy, the rest is going to go down on paper."