The Manhattan College women’s basketball team (6-11, 3-3 MAAC) squared up against winless Iona (0-16, 0-5 MAAC) on Thursday at 7:00pm in Draddy Gymnasium.
While things got dicey in the fourth period, the Jaspers held on to win this matchup by a score of 67-63. The win brought their MAAC record over .500 (4-3) and it put them in a three-way tie for fourth place in the MAAC at the moment.
“I’m really excited to get our conference win against Iona,” said head coach Heather Vulin. “They’re a really dangerous team. Their record doesn’t give them justice of how talented they are.”
Iona does indeed boast a few really impressive players in Toyosi Abiola (7x MAAC Rookie of the Week), Treyanna Clay (came in averaging 10.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 2.4 APG), and Alexis Lewis (over 1,000 career points), so underrating the team was not one of Vulin’s plans.
“That was a big focal point because when especially you’re in MAAC play, every game is a dogfight,” said Vulin.
The game was close in the first period as both teams traded leads twice and both teams’ largest lead was only four.
The Jaspers began extending their lead to as much as 10 in the second period led by Amani Tatum and Taylor Williams who combined for 10 points. However, a three-pointer by Abiola and a layup by Clay with a 1:05 left on the clock made it a 33-28 Jaspers lead going into the half.
The Jaspers outscored the Gaels in the third period 14-9 with a lot of help from Kayla Grimme who managed to score three points and get six rebounds.
The Jaspers looked to have had things under control by the fourth period as they created a 59-41 lead with 6:02 left in the game. However, the Gaels did not give up and spent the rest of the game cutting into that lead.
Over the next five and a half minutes, the Gaels went on an incredible 18-2 run to make it a one possession game with 31 seconds on the clock.
However, a couple of successful free throws each from Tatum, Grimme, and Williams solidified the 67-63 victory for Manhattan.
Williams and Grimme were not only key players in the last 31 seconds, but throughout the entirety of the game.
Williams led the team in scoring with a season-high 18 points. It was more than the 15 points she had in her last four games combined.
Her performance was one she credited to her teammates and confident shooting.
“I think definitely just shooting well confidently,” said Williams. “I wouldn’t be able to have gotten the shots that I did if it weren’t for my teammates so I think it’s great that they could find me tonight and I was grateful I was able to knock them down.”
Grimme had 14 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks, and three steals for the game. It was the fifth time this season she recorded a double-double.
The 15 rebounds also put her ahead of Stacey Jack who was fifth on the college’s all-time rebound list with 823 rebounds during her time on the team from 1983-1987.
While satisfied with her level of play, Grimme gave the credit to her teammates as well.
“I think it’s very gratifying to, now that I’m in my fifth year, seeing a lot my hard work paying off, but also like Taylor said, at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be in this position at all without any of my teammates,” said Grimme. “Either getting me the ball or pushing me harder in practice everyday.”
The Jaspers have something to prove after being picked in preseason to finish 10th out of 11 teams in the MAAC.
“It’s really nice to see finally our hard work paying off especially when we were picked 10th originally going in the season,” said Grimme. “Now we’re really able to show the rest of the conference how hard we’ve been working since summertime so it’s really exciting.”
The Manhattan Jaspers play their next game on the road against the Siena Saints on Friday, Jan. 26. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00pm at the Alumni Recreation Center.