by Charles Lippolis
Friday at Draddy Gym, the men’s and women’s basketball teams split their charity exhibition double header. 100 percent of the proceeds from the games were donated to the American Red Cross to support their hurricane relief efforts in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
The women’s match-up with Dominican, which was the first game of the day, was a hard-fought win. After losing senior guard Taylor Williams to injury in the first half, Manhattan was able to stay in control of the game with production of the bench.
Women’s head coach Heather Vulin called a timeout with 4:23 left in the third quarter a tie game; a move that seemingly sparked the team’s offense.
The team responded with three consecutive three-point scores out of the hands of freshman Lynette Tait, senior Amani Tatum, and sophomore Julie Høier as the team surged ahead.
Dominican was not finished, with 6:41 left to play, the Chargers brought the game back to just a 4 point differential, but the Jaspers had a final surge in them.
On back-to-back plays, sophomore guard Gabby Cajou and senior guard Amani Tatum intercepted passes and returned them to the rack for 2, helping Manhattan stretch their lead to fourteen with just under a minute left.
Manhattan would go on to win the game with a final score of 87-71.
Before the men’s afternoon leg of the double header, freshman forward Ebube Ebube (San Juan, Puerto Rico) took the mic at center court and addressed the crowd.
“This is near and dear to my heart, I want to thank you for coming out to support [the hurricane relief],” Ebube said.
On the floor, the men’s team came out sharp, but proved to still be working out offensive kinks in the early stages of the season in their 81-71 loss to the Sacred Heart Pioneers
Senior guard Rich Williams made his return, and along with scoring the first basket, added eight points to the team’ effort.
While Williams was excited to be back out on the floor with his teammates, the result of the game had the senior from Brooklyn locked in on getting back out on the floor.
“It was a good opportunity to get back out with the guys,” Williams said, “we didn’t get the result, personally, that we were looking, so I’m not that happy about it.”
After the game, head coach Steve Masiello acknowledged that the team was not firing on all cylinders, but also saw the game as great opportunity to see his team in action as they prepare to move forward.
“I saw a lot of things I really liked, I saw a lot of things I really didn’t like. But it was a great opportunity for us and I’m really excited,” Masiello said, “I saw a lot of good things from the style of play standpoint, were not very good at it right now… but when we get good at it, it’s going to be a tough thing to play against.”
Masiello’s team came out with the aggressive and passionate style that has become synonymous with Manhattan Basketball.
In the first half alone, senior forward Zane Waterman drew three offensive fouls from the Pioneers; while senior guard Zavier Turner and sophomore guard Aaron Walker were seen on the deck often, fighting for the ball.
Junior guard Thomas Capuano was a benefactor of these hustle plays, as he delivered 19 points on 50 percent from three-point-range. Capuano baited Sacred Heart in two offensive fouls himself, as he bought in and capitalized on the team’s unselfish play.
“By playing unselfishly we get each other better looks, high percentage looks. So, I think my teammates really helped me get the ball where I like it,” Capuano said.
While the team was not satisfied with their performance, the opportunity to get on the hardwood for an important caused resonated with Masiello.
The team heads back into action Wednesday, when they face off with the NYIT Bears in Draddy Gym.