Luke Petrasek capped off 26-point night with game-winning three-pointer in final seconds as Columbia defeated Manhattan, 72-71. (Photo courtesy of USA Today)
RIVERDALE, NY -- Before Wednesday night, the last encounter between Columbia and Manhattan involved a go-ahead basket in the final seconds and a miss by the other team at the final buzzer.
The latest exchange featured a similar ending, only with the opposite result.
Luke Petrasek, whose missed tip-in at Levien Gymnasium in 2013 gave Manhattan a 71-70 victory after George Beamon's three-point play put the Jaspers ahead in the final seconds, got his measure of retribution two years later, as his three-pointer with 6.4 seconds remaining in regulation guided Columbia (6-5) to a 72-71 triumph at Draddy Gymnasium. The Jaspers (1-6) had a chance to win at the buzzer, but Rich Williams' circus layup attempt bounced off the rim, triggering relief for the Lions and another dose of agony for the two-time reigning Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions.
"That was definitely a tough loss for us," Petrasek; whose career-high 26 points led all scorers, said as he revisited the ending of the 2013 meeting between Columbia and Manhattan. "At the end, I just heard G(rant Mullins) and (Maodo) Lo saying 'we need a three to win,' so I just trailed out to the three-point line and (Alex Rosen)Berg gave me a great pass, so I just let it go," the 6-10 junior stated, describing the winning possession.
Alex Rosenberg's 19 points included 13 from the free throw line, while Maodo Lo contributed 12 points for the Lions, who have now won three of their last four going into Saturday's matchup against NJIT. For Manhattan, Zane Waterman established a high-water mark for his offense as well, erupting for 22 points as Rich Williams came off the bench to post his first career double-double, collecting 17 points and 11 rebounds.
"I thought we did some things well," Steve Masiello offered after his team was unable to hold a lead in the final minutes for the second consecutive game. "I thought we did enough things well to win the game, but we didn't close it out the way we need to."
Much like the previous incarnation of this interborough rivalry before Wednesday night, this game was a back-and-forth affair, with neither side leading by more than nine points, which was Manhattan's advantage after a RaShawn Stores three-pointer to open the second half put the Jaspers ahead 35-26. Columbia would be relegated to playing catchup until a conventional three-point play from Lo gave the Lions a slim 53-50 cushion with 8:22 to play, something head coach Kyle Smith considered to be as integral a play as Petrasek's left corner trifecta that decided the outcome.
"He got a little more aggressive (in the) second half," Smith said of Lo, who was limited by Manhattan's defense taking him out of the game in the opening stanza. "He had three steals, the big one was the one that put us up three, 53-50, he got the and-one. It's good for him just to grind it out, and playing under duress has been good for him, good for us."
After Columbia was able to extend their lead to four points, Manhattan responded with a 9-2 run, which culminated in a Williams three to put the Jaspers in front by a 66-63 margin. Free throws by Williams and Waterman in the ensuing possessions padded the edge to four, at 70-66, until a Rosenberg three-point play pulled the Lions within one entering the final 18 seconds of regulation.
Looking for a steal off the inbounds pass, Columbia was unsuccessful in that aspect, but managed to quickly foul Tyler Wilson, who entered the contest a 55 percent free throw shooter. Manhattan's junior point guard sank the first shot to extend the Jaspers' lead to two, but missed the second, leaving the door open for the visitors and setting the stage for Petrasek and his subsequent heroics.
"We've been there before," said Smith of the Lions' experience in close games, as his team had suffered four of their five losses; including two in overtime, by three points or less. "I felt like our guys knew what we wanted to do, and we came up with a play. They had a layup and our guys got a little tight. We needed that thing to come off the rim, and it was like 'wow, we won one!'"
"I'm a glass half-full guy," Masiello reiterated after his team's latest setback. "There are a lot of good things that you take away and you build on, and for me, it's always been about the ability to cut down on things and just keep building, keep getting better. That's my job, and we'll get better at it. I don't have any concerns about that."