Jaspers Fall 65-62 to Canisius

Eight days ago, Manhattan and Canisius squared off in Buffalo, in a high scoring, offensive showcase.

The Jaspers won that game 94-86, but immediately after the game, head coach Steve Masiello was quick to point out that the win was an uncharacteristic one. Masiello emphasized that the Jaspers are a defensive team, and can’t rely on their offense to win games.

In the second meeting between the teams, the Jaspers fell victim to this trap, dropping the contest 65-62 to the Griffins, after leading by 10 early in the first half.

“What happened is we exhaled,” Masiello said. “We got a good lead and we came out, we relied on our offense. That’s not who we are. We have to rely on our defense. When we get into matches where we have to out-offense people, that’s not going to be a good sign for us.”

The Jaspers came out strong out of the gate, knocking down five of their first seven field goal attempts and three of their first five from the 3-point line. A 13-3  lead five minutes into the game forced Canisius to call a timeout and regroup.

It did just that, coming out with a different intensity and focus that it lacked to start the game. The Griffins’ urgency, combined with Manhattan’s ice cold shooting– 4-21 after starting the game 5-7– sparked  a comeback for the visiting team.For the rest of the first half, the Griffins would outscore the Jaspers 30-10, and carry a 33-23 lead into the locker room.

“We let them shoot 48 percent in the first half,” Shane Richards said about what went wrong for the Jaspers. “Any time you do that to a team that’s a very good offensive team like Canisius is, you’re going to struggle. .. It’s hard for any team to come back like that on a consistent basis.”

The Jaspers regained some of their shooting touch in the second half, shooting 50 percent in the period.

Behind a better offensive showing, the Jaspers cut Canisius’ lead to 48-45, after a three-point play from Calvin Crawford with nine minutes left to play.

The Griffins controlled the next six minutes, maintaining their lead throughout the interval. However, with three minutes left in the game, Richards burried a 3-pointer to tie the game at 57.

The teams exchanged baskets for the next two and a half minutes and with the Griffins up 63-62, the Jaspers had possession with 11 seconds to play and a chance to win the game. Zane Waterman got a look inside, threw up a wild layup through some contact, but the referees deemed the play clean. The Griffins would secure the rebound with .3 seconds remaining, and after two free throws from Malcolm McMillan, would take the game 65-62.

“It’s a basketball play,” Masiello said about Waterman’s layup attempt. “There shouldn’t be a foul on that play. You have to finish that play and if it was the other way around, I wouldn’t want there to be a foul on that play.”

Canisius leaned on the offensive exploits of  Phil Valenti and McMillan throughout the game. The duo combined for 45 of the Griffins’ 65 points.

“He’s a terrific player,” Masiello said about Valenti. “He’s a tough matchup because he has size, foot speed, hands, he finishes around the rim well. … He’s great in pick and pop situations.”

Richards led the way for the Jaspers with 14 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Waterman nearly had a double-double with 13 points and seven rebounds.

The Jaspers return to action on Sunday, when they host Niagara for the second meeting between the two teams in eight days.