CHRIS CIRILLO & DANIEL YNFANTE
SENIOR WRITER & ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
ALBANY, N.Y.—One game down, two to go.
The Manhattan Jaspers took care of business against the 11-seed Marist Red Foxes, defeating them 74-58.
Emmy Andujar, recently named to the All-MAAC First Team, lived up to his billing with a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds, to go along with five assists.
“This is my last go around,” Andujar said about the motivation behind his stellar performance. “There’s no next year for me. I want to have that great feeling like I had last year. So, of course, I’m going into here trying to give it my all and lead the other guys.”
A sloppy first half that resulted in 17 turnovers between both teams played into Manhattan’s strength as it capitalized on seven Marist turnovers for nine points.
The Jaspers did find themselves down at one point, trailing by as much as five—16-11. However, the Jaspers ratcheted up the pressure on the defensive end, holding Marist scoreless for five straight minutes—from 13:31-8:24—and ending the half on a 27-6 run.
“I thought we came out and didn’t play basketball in typical fashion, certain matters,” Steve Masiello, Manhattan’s head coach said of the sloppy first half. “We missed some easy bunnies [layups]. We turned the ball over a little bit. I thought we had some kind of first game jitters which I think takes place.”
Behind 29 combined points from Emmy Andujar, Ashton Pankey and Shane Richards, Manhattan went into the locker room up 38-22.
Richards led the way at half time with 12 points, playing in his first game since being named off the All-MAAC teams.
“I’m not fired up,” Masiello said about Richards not receiving recognition for his superb play all season. “It’s just utterly an embarrassment to our league that the best shooter in the country, a guy that walks off the bus who’s almost double teamed and switched on every set he runs and gets more attention than any player on our team. That’s just absurd to me. It’s not emotion, it’s just factual from where I stand.”
Richards had little to stay about his snub after the game but stressed that he is used to that treatment.
“It’s been like that my whole life, so I’m used to it,” Richards said.
Andujar continued his strong play in the second half, scoring six of his team’s first nine points and assisting on the other three. Marist fought back with an 11-5 run at the 9:53 mark, but a 3-pointer from Richards with just less than 9 minutes left would give the Jaspers a 14-point lead.
A Pankey dunk and four straight Andujar points later would give the Jaspers a 6-1 run and a 16-point lead at the 5:34 mark which would all but seal the game.
“They’re a real difficult preparation and they’re very well coached,” Mike Maker, Mari
st’s head coach said. “They have great personnel and force you to make a lot of decisions during the game and they’re very physical. I thought their defensive pressure in particular, we didn’t shoot very well, not our particular percentage, but they certainly had something to do that.”
The Andujar-Pankey-Richards trio combined for 58 out of Manhattan’s 74 points.
Pankey added 16 points and 9 rebounds. Richards scored 18 points, knocked down four 3-pointers and grabbed four boards.
The Jaspers shot an impressive 26-28 from the free throw line.
The Jaspers will face Saint Peter’s tomorrow at 7 p.m. Manhattan has defeated Saint Peter’s twice this season, 68-63 at home, and 72-65 in overtime on the road. Masiello is 9-0 in his career against Saint Peter’s.
“I think they’re playing the best basketball of anyone in the league right now,” Masiello said about Saint Peter’s. “I probably say them and Iona are playing the best basketball right now. So, they’re a terrific team. Marvin [Dominique] and Desi [Washington] are just terrific players. They play hard. They get after you. They’re defensive minded.
“They take away your initial options and reads. They want to body you, be physical. I think it’s going to be a heavyweight fight tomorrow. We know that going into it. It’s going to be a tough game for us. It’s something I’m definitely worried about”