ALBANY, N.Y.– Midway through the first half of the Manhattan-Marist, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference first round matchup, with Manhattan in firm control of the game, Thomas Capuano launched a 3-pointer from the left corner, which rimmed out, came back down, and rattled into the basket.
It was that kind of night for the Jaspers. A night where everything they threw up seemed to find its way in.
Behind a stellar first half shooting performance– 70 percent from the floor– Manhattan defeated the Marist Red Foxes in wire-to-wire fashion in the first round of the MAAC Tournament, and will move on to the quarterfinals to take on the Siena Saints.
Despite the dominating performance, head coach Steve Masiello said his team is still the hunter not the hunted.
“I think this is all going to go through Siena, Iona and Monmouth, and rightfully so,” Masiello said. “I think they’ve had a great year in respect to what they’ve accomplished. We haven’t. They deserve it.”
Shane Richards saved perhaps his best performance of the season for the most important time, scoring 20 points in the first half and finishing with 27 on the night.
“I wanted to come out and be aggressive,” Richards said. “Just set the tone for us. But it wasn’t really my offense, it was our defense that set the tone tonight. … I came out aggressively, but I really think that it was our defense that took over the game.”
The first half was as close to flawless as possible for the Jaspers. Manhattan shot 70 percent from the field, while holding Marist to 35 percent. The disparity allowed Manhattan to build on its lead, which reached as high as 23, but was 46-29 at halftime.
In the second half, Marist managed to get the ball in the basket with more consistency, shooting 52 percent and scoring 34 points, but it was all for naught, as the Jaspers never missed a beat and traded hoops with Marist.
“With that team, the way they shoot the three, no lead is safe,” Masiello said about Marist. “They can shoot it from five positions. … The way they shoot it, they can have a 9-0 run, 11-2 run in 90 seconds, so we understood that. That’s why our urgency level couldn’t go down.”
Calvin Crawford shouldered the load for Manhattan in the second half, scoring 12 points, along with grabbing seven rebounds in the period. Richards continued his hot shooting performance, with three made field goals in six attempts in the half.
“Overall as a team it was satisfying, whether I had zero points, zero rebounds, or whatever I had tonight,” Crawford said. “As long as we take it one game at a time, one play at a time, it’s pretty satisfying.”
The Jaspers turned 11 Marist turnovers in the contest into 15 points, and played a disciplined game on the other end. The final score read Manhattan 81 Marist 63.
“Really proud of my guys,” Masiello said. “They came, they fought, they handled it like a business trip, and now it’s about Saturday night.”
Manhattan advances to face Siena on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the MAAC Tournament. The Saints will have home-court advantage, as hosts of the tournament at the Times Union Center. The crowd will be partisan, and behind the Saints, but it is an atmosphere and a reality Masiello is ready to face.
“We’re basically coming in trying to take on all of Albany,” Masiello said. “That’s what it is. That’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with that. Siena has earned that. That’s what you get. I don’t want any pity or any empathy about it.”