CHRIS CIRILLO & DAN YNFANTE
SENIOR WRITER & ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
Jersey City, N.J. — Six of the last seven. Four in a row. Nine straight against the Saint Peter’s Peacocks.
The Manhattan Jaspers are getting hot.
A thrilling 72-65 victory in overtime against the Peacocks has the Jaspers at .500 for the first time this season.
“One, we’re healthy,” Masiello said. “I’ve been saying that all year. Two, I said all year, our non-conference schedule. We’re not an ACC or an A10 team. Our non-conference schedule we played on the road in the ACC, A10 team, A10 team, ACC team. I did that to get us ready for March, so when we hopefully get to the postseason we have a chance and we’ve been there before. “
Emmy Andujar led the way for the Jaspers with 22 points and six rebounds as Richards had 21 points and two steals.
“We’re coming together,” Andujar said. “I feel like all the guys are doing a better job – like Shane [Richards], RaShawn [Stores], AP [Pankey]. Especially our non-conference schedule is pretty tough and that helped us a lot.”
Early in the first half, Emmy Andujar passed to an open Shane Richards who hit a three-pointer, which made Andujar the first player in Manhattan history with 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 300 assists.
The Peacocks jumped out to an eight-point lead in the first 10 minutes, but Manhattan responded with a 10-0 run featuring eight points from Shane Richards.
Manhattan forced eight turnovers in the first half but struggled to capitalize on the offensive end. Fouls also hurt the Jaspers as the Peacocks made 11 of 14 free throws.
After nine ties and five lead changes, Saint Peter’s took a five-point lead going into the half.
The Jaspers quickly cut into the Peacocks’ lead at the start of the second half, via a three-pointer from Rich Williams. However, four points from the Saint Peter’s gave it a 39-33 lead.
Manhattan would come storming back, and after four consecutive free throws from Pankey and a jump shot from Andujar the game was tied at 39.
The game would be tied at 43 and then once again at 51. At that point, Manhattan regained the lead thanks to two free throws from Richards and a miraculous three-pointer with the shot clock expiring from Stores.
With less than four minutes to play, Saint Peter’s cut into Manhattan’s lead.
A monstrous put-back-dunk from Marvin Dominique had the Peacocks within two at 59-57 and then a driving layup from Desi Washington tied the game at 59.
Manhattan opted not to take a timeout and paid the price as Stores was called for a travel that gave the ball back to the Peacocks with four seconds and a chance to win the game in regulation.
“I told him to push the ball,” Masiello said about the decision to not call a timeout. “I thought we had a great advantage. In late game situations when a team scores and there’s less than 10 seconds, I don’t believe in calling timeouts. Push the ball down floor, try to get them in transition and let your offense play. RaShawn was trying to come through late and he saw AP wide open. Give St. Peter’s credit. They got in the passing lanes, he [Stores] dragged his foot. It was a good call. And you know what we did? We got a stop. And that’s what you got to do. This isn’t football where a turnover can cost you the game. It’s how you react to plays and our guys reacted well.”
However, Manhattan got away with the blunder as Dominique missed a deep three-pointer from the top of the key and the game headed into overtime.
“With 3.2 seconds, there’s so much time and we wanted to get it to him there,” Saint Peter’s head coach John Dunne said about the last shot in regulation. “We had two guards, Desi Washington spotted on the left and Tyler Gaskins streaking down on the right, and clearly I think he could have tried to made a play off the dribble right there and maybe got something better.”
Andujar struck first for the Jaspers in overtime, converting on a three-point play that gave the Jaspers the lead for good.
Saint Peter’s got to within one point on two occasions, but with time not on its side, it was forced to play the fouling game and send Manhattan to the free throw line where it converted all seven attempts in overtime for a 72-65 victory.
Under Masiello, Manhattan is 9-0 against the Peacocks.
“I didn’t realize that,” Masiello said. “They’re terrific. We’ve had so many great games with them and if we’ve won nine in a row that mean’s they’re due and I don’t want to play them anymore.”