Manhattan Edges Buffalo in ESPN Ramada BracketBuster
BUFFALO, N.Y. - The red-hot Jaspers picked up their fifth win in six games as Manhattan rallied for a 65-64 road victory over Buffalo (11-16) on Saturday. Freshman forward Shane Richards buried four three-pointers, finishing with a team-high 14 points, to lift Manhattan (11-16) to a victory in the ESPN Ramada BracketBuster series for the fifth straight year.
Manhattan's defense stepped up to the occasion nursing a one point advantage on the last possession of the ballgame. Junior forward Javon McCrea collected his game-high 11th rebound on the defensive end to get the Bulls off and running without a timeout.
Jaspers' sophomore guard RaShawn Stores put two hands in the face of Bulls' senior guard Tony Watson preventing a potential game winning three. Watson double clutched and then pushed the ball in the direction of freshman guard Jarryn Skeete whose contested heave at the buzzer was short.
Stores registered 13 points shooting 8-for-10 from the free-throw line in his sixth double-digit scoring performance of the year. Manhattan also received 11 points and four rebounds from junior point guard Michael Alvarado, while sophomore forward Emmy Andujar contributed nine points, four rebounds and a team-high four assists.
Watson torched the net for a game-high 24 points, hitting 7-for-10 three-point attempts. McCrea (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Skeete (11 points, 10 assists) each recorded double-doubles as Manhattan snapped Buffalo's three-game win streak.
The Bulls rushed out of the gate hitting 10 of their first 12 field goal attempts (83%), including a perfect 5-for-5 from three-point territory, in the opening 11 minutes of action. Watson hit his first four attempts from beyond the arc leading the Bulls to a 34-24 lead at the 4:39 mark in the first half.
Manhattan answered by scoring the next nine points to quickly erase Buffalo's largest lead of the game (10). Andujar got the run started with his fourth bucket of the stanza. Richards followed with his second three-pointer, Alvarado added a layup and Stores buried a pair of free-throws with 58 seconds left to get within one.
Buffalo carried a 36-33 lead into the break as the Jaspers used their defensive intensity to stay within striking distance. Manhattan generated 21 points off the Bulls' 18 turnovers in the first 20 minutes. Buffalo turned the ball over 24 times in the contest.
The Jaspers were clicking on all cylinders early in the second half using a 16-2 run to take control. Manhattan scored eight straight points during the spurt as Alvarado tied the contest at 38 with a key three-point play. Stores buried a three-pointer 49 seconds later to put Manhattan on top 41-38 at 17:09.
Richards capped off the scoring surge with consecutive threes. His fourth trey of the game came at 13:50 to give Manhattan its largest lead, 49-40.
Manhattan maintained the lead the rest of the game, but the Bulls made it interesting with their final charge. Jaspers' junior forward Rhamel Brown knocked down a pair of clutch free-throws with 3:55 remaining to give Manhattan a 65-59 advantage.
The free-throws proved to be just enough for the Jaspers who did not score again and relied on their defense down the stretch. Manhattan made consecutive stops with Brown and Richards each coming up with key defensive rebounds in the last three minutes.
The Jaspers showed their poise after Watson connected on his seventh three of the game with 42 seconds remaining, which got Buffalo within one point. Manhattan regrouped with a timeout to set up its final offensive and defensive sets. Manhattan went to Richards for its last shot, but he was short on a midrange jumper. Despite the miss, the Jaspers quickly retreated to execute their game-winning defensive stop.
Manhattan looks to carry its momentum into the final weekend of the regular-season. The Jaspers host Fairfield for a highly anticipated MAAC contest on Friday that airs live on ESPNU at 9 p.m.