Jaspers Memorable Season Comes to a Close in CIT
FAIRFIELD, CONN. - The Manhattan men's basketball team had its landmark season come to a close on Sunday falling 69-57 at Fairfield in the Second Round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Jaspers' junior guard George Beamon led Manhattan (21-13) in scoring for the 26th time this season with 16 points and freshman forward Emmy Andujar posted his second double-double of the year with 11 points and 12 rebounds showing the program has a bright future for years to come.
The Jaspers restored the winning tradition in Riverdale during the 2011-2012 season behind the leadership of first year head coach Steve Masiello. Manhattan exceeded all expectations with the program enjoying the biggest turnaround in NCAA Division I with a 15-win improvement from last season. The Jaspers earned 21 hard fought victories, the most since 2003-04, and it was just the 11th 20-win season in the program's 106 year history. A core of 15 players helped put Manhattan basketball back on the map with the Jaspers receiving their first postseason appearance in six seasons with their participation in the CIT.
On Sunday, the Jaspers gave it a valiant effort, but without the services of senior co-captain Kidani Brutus Manhattan did not have enough offensive firepower left in the tank. Brutus missed the game due to an injury he suffered at the MAAC Tournament and could not provide the team a three-point shooting threat that led Manhattan with 63 treys this season. The Jaspers struggled shooting 1-for-11 beyond the arc, while Fairfield (21-14) rallied behind sophomores Maurice Barrow (18) and Keith Matthews (15) who each scored in double-figures.
After settling the Stags' game opening eight point spurt, Manhattan rallied to earn their first lead of the ballgame (13-12) at 14:34 with Anujar's three-point play capping a 13-4 run. Manhattan built its lead to five points after three straight buckets, a tip in from Roberto Colonette, a two-handed dunk by Rhamel Brown and then a lay up from Mohamed Koita that put the Jaspers up 21-16 at 11:30.
Barrow and Matthews answered with key buckets in the first half that kept Manhattan from extending its lead any larger. The duo combined for 25 of Fairfield's first half points. Matthews knocked down two baskets in the final 27 seconds of the stanza, including a buzzer beater that sent the Stags into intermission with a 38-37 edge.
In a game that featured 14 lead changes and eight ties, Fairfield locked in defensively over a nine minute span in the second half as the Stags mounted a 21-4 game changing run. Stags' senior forward Rakim Sanders scored five of his nine points during the spurt, including a dunk that capped the run at 3:50 to give Fairfield a 68-53 advantage. It was enough cushion to hold off the Jaspers.
Brown, Colonette and sophomore point guard Michael Alvarado each finished with eight points for Manhattan. Koita added six points and five rebounds to the Jaspers effort. Fairfield got nine points from senior Ryan Olander and eight points off the bench from Jamel Fields.
Manhattan won the battle of the boards for the 24th time in 34 games this season outrebounding Fairfield 35-32. The Jaspers could not maintain their 48.4% shooting effort in the first half as they shot 9-for 23 (39.1%) in the final 20 minutes. Fairfield finished shooting 50.8% (31-61) in the contest.