CHRIS CIRILLO & DANIEL YNFANTE
SENIOR WRITER & ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
In the battle of the Bronx played at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the team from the Bronx named Manhattan won bragging rights.
The Jaspers (1-1 MAAC, 4-7) overcame a slow start and defeated Fordham, 71-57, in the 107th annual game between the Bronx schools.
Fordham jumped out to a 10-0 start in the first four minutes of the game, but Manhattan responded three minutes later with a 7-0 run to cut the lead down to five.
It was all Manhattan from that point on.
A swarming full-court press by Manhattan stifled Fordham’s ball handlers, leading to easy transition layups and open three-pointers. The Jaspers finished the final 10 minutes on an 18-5 run, marked by three consecutive three-pointers made by Zane Waterman, Shane Richards and Donovan Kates.
“I think we’re a decent team when we’re not pressing,” Manhattan’s head coach Steve Masiello said. “I think we’re a borderline nightmare when we’re in our press. Not so much that we’re going to have our way, but we’re not going to let you do what you practice.”
The Jaspers opened the second half on the same note it ended the first.
Rich Williams hit two three-pointers in a row, and the Jaspers jumped out to an 18-4 run in the first six minutes to extend the lead to 19.
Fordham would eventually cut the lead down to 11 with 3:26 remaining, but a layup by Emmy Andujar put Fordham away.
“The worst thing you can do with a young basketball team is jump out and get an early lead,” Fordham’s head coach Tom Pecora said, “because they start thinking ‘oh, we’re better than these guys. The game is over.’”
Andujar, a Bronx native, continued his strong play. He finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and three assists, which earned him the Mike Cohen MVP award.
He also played the entire second half with a nagging ankle injury after going down at the end of the first half.
The injury came after he drove to the basket and was called for an offensive foul. He immediately collapsed to the ground and was visibly in pain, pounding the floor a few times and needing help off the court while limping.
“It was just a minor sprained ankle,” Andujar said. “I’ve been going through it a lot and it happens. I’m used to it. I couldn’t leave my team out there. I felt like I needed to be out there. They need me and I need them, so I had to just fight through a little pain.”
Andujar’s teammate and fellow Bronx native, Ashton Pankey, ended with 12 points and five rebounds.
The Jaspers stayed hot from behind the three-point line. The team finished 8-16 (50 percent) from behind the arc, led by Richards who finished with 12 points all coming via three-pointers.
With Richards, Pankey and Andujar all with double-digit scoring totals, it marked the first time this season where Manhattan has had three players in double figures in a single game.
Manhattan is 56-51 all-time against its Bronx-rival. This marks just the second time the two teams have met outside of the Bronx.
“I don’t care where we play.” Masiello said. “I think this is one of the best rivalries in college basketball. It has so much history and tradition. We have to make it bigger than just the Bronx. So it’s kind of perfect that Manhattan College isn’t in Manhattan and the Battle of the Bronx is in Brooklyn.”