ALBANY, N.Y.– After Manhattan’s first round victory against Saint Peter’s, head coach John Olenowski declared he liked his team’s chances against the 10-time champs Marist Red Foxes.
The Jaspers and Red Foxes split their season-series, and Manhattan was playing with house money, after turning a three-win 2014-2015 season into an unexpected MAAC quarterfinals appearance.
But an early 11-0 deficit, and a 31 percent shooting night ended Manhattan’s season, as the Marist knocked it out of the tournament with a 70-58 victory.
“I expected this from us from the beginning of the season,” Amani Tatum, Manhattan guard said about the team’s turnaround from three wins, to a spot in the MAAC quarterfinals. “I saw what we were capable of. At the beginning of the season and as we progressed, it’s a great opportunity to be here. Never satisfied because we had a goal this year, but I’m happy we made it this far and I’m happy with what we did with this season.”
Manhattan struggled right out of the gate, missing its first five shots and allowing Marist to start the game on an 11-0 run.
“11-0 to Marist is kind of like deadly poison,” Olenowski said. “It’s not easy to catch up to them because they execute the offense so well, so getting steals, we did get some, but they were kind of too late. … That 11-0 start, we really dug a hole for ourselves and we were fighting back the entire way.”
The Jaspers shot 33 percent from the field in a rough first half, in which they never led. On the other side, Marist buried five of its nine 3-point attempts, got 10 points and six rebounds from Tori Jarosz, the MAAC Player of the Year, and led 39-26 at halftime.
“We got off to a good start, which had kind of been our bugaboo over the last few weeks,” Brian Giorgis, Marist’s head coach said. “To get off to an 11-0 start really helped us.”
Not much changed in the second half, as the Jaspers continued to struggle offensively, and the Jarosz show was in full effect.
The 6-foot-3 center rattled off seven consecutive points early in the third quarter, which stretched Marist’s lead to 17. Jarosz displayed her offensive arsenal, following a 3-pointer from the top of the key with a running, left-handed hook shot.
Kayla Grimme rattled off six consecutive points to end the third quarter, but Manhattan still faced an uphill climb, down 55-39 to start the fourth.
The Jaspers opened the fourth giving Marist a different look than they had all game. A full court press resulted in three Marist turnovers, which the Jaspers turned into seven points. With eight minutes remaining, and the Jaspers down 15, Nyasha Irizarry stole the inbounds pass and converted on a 3-point play, which cut the deficit to 12.
Down 14, with 3:25 to go in the game, the Jaspers scored four in a row, to trim Marist’s lead to 10.
However, as was the case the whole game, Manhattan could not find a way to consistently put the ball in the basket, and Marist sealed the 70-58 win with free throws down the stretch.
Manhattan’s season ends after its first quarterfinals appearance since 2013. After winning just three games last season, the Jaspers improved to 15-16 this year. It is an accomplishment Olenowski is proud of.
“We had a great, great season,” Olenowski said. “I can’t say enough about the effort they gave. I can’t say enough about their turnaround this year … I can’t tell you how proud I am of the fact that we’ve done that and these ladies have proven they’re great basketball players.”