RIVERDALE, NY -- Manhattan matched Iona stride for stride for about 28 minutes, but a 25-8 run by the Gaels to close the game proved to make the difference in an 82-67 victory for the reigning Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions, the fifth for Iona in their last six meetings with the Jaspers. Here are a trio of takeaways from the home perspective (Iona will have their own separate observations) as Manhattan concludes a three-game homestand with a 2-1 record before traveling to Monmouth on Friday:
1) Defending Jordan Washington.
In the wake of Washington carving up Manhattan in a noticeable matchup advantage last January at the Hynes Athletics Center, Steve Masiello mentioned that the biggest key to defending Iona's senior big man was to "get him in foul trouble right away." The Jaspers got him to commit two infractions before the final media timeout of the first half, and were able to draw Washington's third and fourth fouls just 59 seconds into the second half, but the Gaels were able to respond and catch Manhattan off kilter just enough to prevail.
2) Even after a loss, there was a net defensive gain on the homestand, but what about the offense?
It is easy to say that any progress Manhattan made in wins over Niagara and Rider was negated by tonight's loss, but if you followed the game in context and look deeper within the box score, a tangible positive still exists from a stretch in which the Jaspers entered a week ago with an 0-5 record in MAAC play.
"I think we're going in the right direction from a defensive standpoint," Masiello reiterated. However, the other end of the ball provided this telling summary:
"I thought we were aggressive offensively tonight, and then in the second half, our offensive efficiency went down," he continued. "I don't think we did a good job attacking the rims, especially with Jordan out. We settled too much, and obviously, some big turnovers from Zavier Turner hurt us."
3) Was Tuesday night a wasted opportunity?
Not so, says Masiello, even after conceding a 50 percent second half shooting effort to Iona to offset holding them to just 35 percent from the floor in the opening stanza.
"I'm okay with that," he said. "Most teams, if you stay with your system, you keep defending, we can defend that way for 40 minutes and keep teams to 34 percent. What we didn't do, though, was guard the three-point line the way we need to. When they went to their five-out and they were hitting that slot drive, that top guard's got to be ready to go out and play that shooter. We didn't have great urgency there when we did that."
"There's no wasted opportunity, because we will defend for 40 minutes. We'll get to that point, but from my end, I'd rather see that at halftime than see us letting a team shoot 48 percent."