Emmy Andujar's 22 points led all scorers in Manhattan's 72-65 overtime win at Saint Peter's, giving Jaspers a season sweep of Peacocks. (Photo courtesy of the Manhattan Quadrangle)
As if the first meeting between Manhattan and Saint Peter's was not intense enough, their second encounter; only nine days later, needed an extra five minutes to decide it. In the end, despite more than a few moments of uncertainty, the status quo prevailed.
Fueled by 22 points from Emmy Andujar and 21 from Shane Richards, Manhattan (8-8, 5-2 MAAC) overcame the trademark gutsy effort Saint Peter's (9-10, 3-5) has been known for, outmuscling the Peacocks in overtime by the final of 72-65 at the Yanitelli Center for their fourth consecutive win and sixth in their last seven games.
"I was really proud of our poise," Steve Masiello stated after the Jaspers surrendered an 8-3 run over the end of regulation to force the five-minute overtime period, "and our defense the last 25 minutes of the night. Our upperclassmen stepped up on the road as upperclassmen should do."
However, as is always the case against Saint Peter's, nothing came easy.
Behind seven points in the first four minutes from Marvin Dominique, whose 16 points paced the Peacocks in the losing effort, Saint Peter's built an 18-10 lead with 9:24 remaining in the first half, before Masiello emphatically called a timeout to rally the troops. The instructional moment paid off, as Manhattan ripped off a 10-0 run shortly thereafter, but following a Richards three-pointer that poked Manhattan back in front, the home team ended the first half on an 11-5 onslaught, taking a 35-30 cushion into the intermission.
The first several minutes of the second half saw Saint Peter's and Manhattan match one another blow for blow, just as they had done in the closing minutes at Draddy Gymnasium on January 7, when the Jaspers escaped their home floor with a 68-63 victory. With Manhattan trailing 43-39 with 12:33 to play in regulation, each of the Jaspers' three seniors took matters into their own hands to seize control of the game. Andujar scored six points during a 10-2 spurt to tip the scales back into the visitors' favor, Donovan Kates made several hustle plays that will not show up in a box score; and with the shot clock expiring, RaShawn Stores drilled an NBA-range three-pointer from the top of the key to put the Jaspers ahead 56-51 with 3:49 on the clock.
But Saint Peter's was not done yet.
Playing the final 13:40 of the game with four fouls, Dominique displayed veteran awareness down the stretch, first with a jumper from the left block to bring the Peacocks within three, then on a monstrous dunk with 47 seconds left in regulation to make it a 59-57 game. Deciding not to foul on the ensuing possession, head coach John Dunne banked on a stop, and got one when Richards misfired on a three-point attempt. Desi Washington scooped up the rebound and went coast-to-coast with eight seconds remaining, tying the score at 59 and setting the stage for the theatrics that would soon arrive.
A travel on Stores gave the Peacocks a final chance in regulation with 3.4 seconds remaining, and the ball at halfcourt after Dunne called timeout. On a catch-and-shoot play off the inbounds, Dominique's three from the top of the key rimmed out at the buzzer, providing bonus basketball in Jersey City. After a scoreless 1:18, Andujar broke the ice with a controversial three-point play to put Manhattan ahead by the count of 62-59. Saint Peter's would pull within one on an Elias Desport jumper with 1:56 left in the extra session to make it a 64-63 game, but the Jaspers used free throws and veteran leadership to salt the game away with an 8-2 run, revealing that the reigning MAAC champions could not only take a punch in a difficult road atmosphere, but get back up and win a game on guts and guile, something their coach was undoubtedly pleased with.
"I've got great kids," Masiello gushed. "I've got a group of kids that have been in a thousand street fights, and they just know how to survive. They might not knock you out, but they'll outlast you."