Sunday, January 17, 2016

Manhattan gets back to .500 in MAAC with gritty win over Niagara

Shane Richards' 22 points led all scorers as Manhattan fended off Niagara in 69-64 victory that moved Jaspers to 4-4 in MAAC play. (Photo courtesy of Manhattan College Athletics)

RIVERDALE, NY -- Following his team's 94-86 shootout victory over Canisius ten days ago, Steve Masiello mentioned his desire to see improvement on the defensive end of the basketball.

Once again, message received.

For the third straight game, the Jaspers (7-10, 4-4 MAAC) held their opponent to 65 points or less, defeating Niagara (5-14, 3-5 MAAC) in a 69-64 encounter that reflected the style Manhattan has come to be known for in recent years, as well as the conference in which they play as a whole.

"Typical MAAC game," Masiello remarked after Manhattan snapped a two-game losing streak and avenged a 55-53 loss to the Purple Eagles eight days ago. "I thought our experience really helped us a lot, and I thought RaShawn (Stores) bounced back very nicely and hit some big free throws."

Four Jaspers ended the afternoon in double figures, with Shane Richards' 22-point effort leading all scorers while Stores was second-best for Manhattan, posting 15 points. Zane Waterman and Rich Williams each contributed 12 points to a winning cause, with Matt Scott's 21 points pacing four Niagara players in double digits at the final buzzer.

Manhattan, just as they did against Canisius this past Friday, got off to a hot start, leading 13-5 at the first media timeout and recording an assist on each of their first nine field goals. The Jasper ball sharing remained strong throughout the game, with 16 helpers in total on 22 made baskets, translating to an 81.3 percent assist rate.

"The thing I haven't really been able to get from this team is consistency on both ends," Masiello admitted. "Something we're concentrating on is getting better starts. We did that against Canisius, and we did that today again. We really sustained it sharing the basketball. We had 12 assists at halftime and I thought that was the key, our unselfishness, really sharing the basketball. We got four guys in double figures, and that was a big part of our success today."

Leading 39-31 at halftime, Manhattan's advantage was trimmed to one possession by a 7-2 Niagara run in the first 3:39 after the intermission, where it would stay for the most of the next several minutes, A layup from Scott did allow the Purple Eagles to tie the score at 46 with 12:49 to play, but on the ensuing trip down the floor, Richards' fourth three-pointer of the day gave the Jaspers the lead again.

Niagara would attempt to fight back, and again drew within three with just under eight minutes remaining, but a Williams triple off a feed from Calvin Crawford made the score 60-54. The Purple Eagles would counter with a 7-2 spurt to cut their deficit to just one point, but did not get any closer as Waterman's basket with 1:19 to go commenced a 7-3 run that closed the game and another solid effort on defense.

"Our main focus is defense, defense, defense," Stores reaffirmed. "Defense wins championships. Offense gets you the points to keep you in the game, but defense wins the game."

"It helped to get out to that early start," Richards added, "but to get stops defensively helps our offense on the other end. The more stops we get, the more momentum we get on the offensive end."

No comments:

Post a Comment