Manhattan Stuns Iona
NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. - The Manhattan men's basketball team rallied back from a 17-point deficit with less than eight minutes remaining and used Emmy Andujar's 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the Jaspers off with a 75-72 victory at Iona (13-4, 5-1 MAAC) on Thursday. Jaspers' junior guard George Beamon posted a game-high 21 points, while sophomore forward Rhamel Brown scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half to serve the Gaels their first MAAC loss of the year.
Manhattan (11-7, 4-2 MAAC) experienced its struggles even before the game started as the Jaspers' bus broke down on its way to the game forcing the squad to arrive in true New York City style by way of taxi cabs. Then in the first half, the Gaels gave Manhattan even more problems as they busted the Jaspers zone with superb 3-point shooting. Iona sank nine of its first 11 attempts from downtown and carried a 39-22 advantage at the break. Gaels' sophomore guard Sean Armand and junior guard Kyle Smyth combined for seven of Iona's nine first half treys.
The resilient Jaspers regrouped at intermission and refused to go away in the second half as they climbed an uphill battle against the preseason MAAC favorite. Manhattan went on lockdown in the final 20 minutes against the powerful Iona offense that entered the game ranked second in the nation averaging 85.6 points per game. The Jaspers limited the Gaels to only 33 points and 3-for-12 from 3-point territory, while Manhattan dropped 53 points by shooting 56.3% (18-32) in the stanza.
Trailing 65-48 with 7:58 remaining after Smyth's fourth 3-pointer of the game the Jaspers mounted their comeback charge. Manhattan rallied off 10 straight points anchored by 3-pointers from Beamon and senior guard Kidani Brutus. Brown then made it a seven point game (65-58) with a pair of free-throws at 5:15.
The Jaspers kept within striking distance thanks in part to the superb post play by Brown who recorded his sixth career double-double grabbing 11 boards to go along with his 17 points in 30 minutes off the bench. Brown set the tone for the Jaspers final four minute surge with a pair of blocks on the same possession against MAAC Preseason Player of the Year Mike Glover.
Manhattan held Iona to only three points in the last four minutes and used a 7-0 run to tie the game at 69-69 with 1:53 remaining. Brutus knocked down his third 3-pointer of the contest to begin the run at 3:19. Then after a pair of Andujar free-throws, Jasper sophomore point guard Michael Alvarado swiped a steal in the backcourt from Armand and went in for the game tying lay up.
Glover got to the free-throw line with 32 seconds left and knocked down one of two attempts to put the Gaels ahead 70-69. On the Jaspers next trip down court, Brown bulled his way for an offensive rebound and converted the put back with the foul. He finished off the three point play with eight seconds on the clock to regain a 72-70 advantage.
The Gaels answered back with Lamont Jones' off balance jumper in the paint to tie the ballgame at 72 leaving Manhattan three seconds to work with. The Jaspers pushed the ball to midcourt and drew up the game winning play in a timeout with 1.3 on the clock. Inbounding the ball from midcourt, Alvarado lofted it to Andujar who knocked down the buzzer beating 24-footer off the glass.
Andujar finished with a career-high 17 points to go along with six rebounds and three assists. Iona was led by Glover's 18 points and eight rebounds. Gaels' senior guard Scott Machado dished out 16 assists and posted eight points.
Manhattan looks for its third straight victory on Saturday when the Jaspers host Siena. Tip off is slated for 7 p.m. at Draddy Gymnasium. The contest will be televised nationally on ESPN3.com.