Jaspers Start Season 2-0 for First Time Since 2002

By John Jackson Staff Writer

Coming off a thrilling 60-56 victory against Holy Cross, Manhattan looked to make it two and a row to start the 2016-2017 season. That is something the team has not accomplished since the 2002-2003 season when the Jaspers won the MAAC Championship.

They did just that Tuesday night against the Yale Bulldogs as they beat them 63-57. This was win No. 2 for first-year head coach Heather Vulin.

“It means a lot because I feel this crew has worked really hard for me,” said Vulin in response to the team’s 2-0 start. “And to know that they’re doing something special in terms of making people notice women’s basketball here on campus means a lot to me that they have.”

Junior Kayla Grimme opened up the scoring to begin the game in the first period. The Jaspers kept the lead for the whole period while leading by six at one time.

Yale tied things up immediately in the second period on a layup by Junior Tamara Simpson, but not for long. The score shifted back and forth and the lead changed a total of seven times. Yale went into halftime with a slim 27-26 lead.

The third quarter was a turning point for the Jaspers, who were led by junior Amani Tatum. Tatum dominated with 14 of her 20 points in the third.

“I had sat for a while in the second,” said Tatum. “And [coach] said I had fresh legs and to do what I have to do. That’s kind of my mindset, to go in and help my team win the game.”

While Manhattan entered the fourth period with a 47-40 lead, things got interesting quickly. Yale’s Senior Lena Munzer scored five points within the first minute and Junior Jen Berkowitz gave Yale the lead within four minutes.

What followed was a closely fought battle between the two teams.

After junior Mikki Guiton tied things up for the Jaspers with 5:32 to go, there was a combined scoring drought of two minutes and 14 seconds. Rebounds kept the Jaspers alive during that time as they had five. Two of them came from Grimme who led the team with 12.

“Coach was reiterating the whole time that we needed to stay calm,” said Grimme. “And follow the gameplan that we had before. Even when the score was going back and forth we just wanted to make sure that we stuck to what we know we were supposed to do.”

Up by only one point with 1:42 to go, the Jaspers got a break as Simpson fouled Tatum for three shots. Tatum took advantage by sinking all three to give Manhattan a four point lead.

The Bulldogs couldn’t cut down the Jaspers lead any further than four for the remaining 1:42 giving the Jaspers a 63-57 win.

The Jaspers now head on the road for the first time this year as they are slated for a 2 p.m. game in Buffalo, N.Y., on Saturday against the Buffalo Bulls.

“Our focus is still to win,” said Tatum. “We still need to stick together, we still need to work on the little things, but this week we’ll focus on them and we’ll be fine for Buffalo.”