The Jaspers were up one.
After George Beamon missed a jumper before the shot clock expired, Rayvon Harris grabbed the rebound and Niagara called timeout with 6.6 seconds left.
Harris got the ball out of the timeout, zipped up the court, easily got to the basket, went up for the easy layup, and the ball was sent away. Game over.
You can guess who blocked it.
Rhamel Brown, who came into the game against Niagara ranked third in blocked shots per game, increased his average when he dismissed six shots against the Purple Eagles and won his team the game.
Brown isn’t one of the best shot blockers in the country anymore. He is the best shot blocker in the country.
Last season, Brown finished 10th in the country with three blocks per game. This season, Brown has consistently been top-five in shots blocked per game, averaging an incredible 3.7 blocks.
But Brown hasn’t just rejected shots. He’s blocked shots when his team needed it the most.
When Manhattan faced La Salle in its first game of the season, Brown bailed out his teammates. The Jaspers were down two in overtime when Brown made a layup to tie the game, and then he sprinted down the court to block a game-winning jump shot by Tyreek Duren at the buzzer. The Jaspers went on to win that game in double overtime, 99-90.
Then when Manhattan faced Buffalo, Brown rescued his teammates. The Jaspers were up two in overtime with 14 seconds left when Jarod Oldham went up for the dunk, only to have it swatted away by Brown. Moments later, Josh Freelove went up for the layup, and he was rejected by Brown as well. RaShawn Stores got the rebound, and the Jaspers went on to win that game in overtime, 84-81.
And then he did it against Niagara. Some players win games on offense. Brown does it on defense.
But that’s just one reason – albeit the main reason – why Brown is the best shot blocker in college basketball.
Take a look at the other top shot blockers.
Jordan Bachynski of Arizona State, the nation’s leader in shots blocked per game, is 7 feet 2 inches. D.J. Cunningham of UNC Asheville is 6 foot 10 inches. Sim Bhullar of New Mexico State is 7 feet 5 inches. Chris Obekpa of St. John’s is 6 feet 9 inches tall.
Brown is a modest 6 feet 7 inches. He is a dog in a pen of lions.
Brown will move up in the block rankings after the game against Niagara, but whether he is ranked first or last is irrelevant in determining who the best shot blocker is. The 6-foot-7-inch senior from Brownsville, N.Y., has consistently helped his team win games when they needed him most.
Unfortunately, there is not a stat for that category.
“Brown basically took the game over and made some monster plays,” Head Coach Steve Masiello said after Brown’s game-winning block against Niagara. “That’s why he’s one of the best big men in the country, bar none.”