Saturday, December 23, 2017

Jaspers conclude hard-fought non-conference season with setback at Seton Hall

Angel Delgado and Zane Waterman were involved in scrum approaching halftime in Manhattan's non-conference finale at Seton Hall. Waterman's 18 points led all scorers, but Jaspers came away on short end of 74-62 Seton Hall win. (Photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

NEWARK, NJ -- When previewing his Manhattan team's non-conference finale at Seton Hall, Steve Masiello did not look at the clash with the nationally ranked Pirates as a gauge for where the Jaspers stood with Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play opening one week from Saturday, Rather, the coach took a more optimistic approach, citing the opportunity to face Seton Hall and how it would benefit his program as it looks for a third conference championship in five seasons.

Manhattan learned several lessons Saturday afternoon, some of the physical nature, along with some others that could be applied as the year goes on, albeit in a 74-62 loss to the No. 23/22-ranked Pirates at the Prudential Center two days before the Christmas holiday.

"In the second half, I thought we were really good," Masiello assessed as the Jaspers (5-7) were led by 18 points from Zane Waterman in a game where they trailed by as many as 25 points before fighting back to make the final margin more respectable. "In the first half, I was a little disappointed in some of us, but give Seton Hall credit for that. I'm proud of these kids. They competed, they battled. We've just got to clean up some little things that aren't typical Manhattan-type basketball plays, and we will."

The Jaspers matched Seton Hall (11-2) almost evenly through the first nine minutes of the opening stanza, keeping pace with the Pirates' uptempo attack and connecting on eight of their first eleven field goal attempts, including each of their first four three-point shots. But after having the ball coming out of the 12-minute media timeout with a chance to pull within one possession, the offense stalled, giving way to a 13-0 Seton Hall run punctuated by Manhattan committing half of their 14 first-half turnovers over five minutes as the Pirates' athleticism and talent advantage took center stage.

With 41 seconds remaining before the intermission, tempers flared momentarily as Waterman and Angel Delgado fought for possession under the basket nearest the Seton Hall bench. No punches were thrown, but the two senior forwards engaged in extracurricular activities that escalated when Seton Hall's Myles Powell appeared to jump in from behind and shove Waterman, then setting off a larger fracas in which Calvin Crawford and Rich Williams were also involved. Powell and Williams each received flagrant-2 fouls and were ejected, but since the fouls were not attributed to fighting, neither will be suspended for their teams' next games. Delgado and Waterman were each whistled for offsetting technical fouls in an affair that was quickly controlled as the officials and coaches each ran down the floor to restore order.

"As long as it's under control, and I think it was, it's kids competing, it's kids with great pride, it's kids playing for bragging rights," Masiello said as he surmised the situation. "I know what that program's about. They're about doing the right thing, playing the right way. I hope they feel the same way about us because that's what we're about, and when you have competitors competing, sometimes things like that happen. It seemed like everything got cleaned up pretty quickly, and I thought we played good basketball the rest of the way. I'm okay with it."

Leading 49-27 at halftime, primarily on the strength of a 24-7 spurt heading into the locker room, Seton Hall ballooned their cushion to a 56-31 count with 15:44 to play, their largest advantage of the afternoon. The Pirate advantage would remain 20 points or greater until the final five minutes of regulation, when Manhattan closed the game on a 13-4 run.

In addition to Waterman, Calvin Crawford scored 10 points for his seventh double-figure game of the season and first since December 2 against Towson. For Seton Hall, each of the Pirates' five starters contributed 10 or more points, with Carrington and Delgado each amassing 15; the latter also posting 18 rebounds for his 59th career double-double, to further the winning cause for a team Masiello feels is capable of doing significant damage in the NCAA Tournament.

"Without a doubt," he said of Seton Hall's chances to make a deep run this March. "I've watched every game they've played and I can't tell you one weakness they have. They have good shooters and they'll get better. I don't know what weakness they have. They rebound the basketball, terrific in transition, they shoot it from multiple positions, they have a low-post force in Angel who does all the little things, they have great role players, they have veteran guard play. They don't have a weakness. That's a team that's very, very dangerous come March."

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