On Saturday Jan. 27, the Manhattan College Men’s Basketball team fell 78-65 to the Iona Gaels in a matchup that was hosted by NYCB Live in Uniondale, N.Y.
Head coaches Steve Masiello (MAN) and Tim Cluess (IONA) both agreed that the event was good for the growth and promotion of the MAAC.
“It was a nice arena, it was a nice venue and it was fun playing here,” said Cluess after the game.
The venue has also been in the discussion for being potential home of the MAAC tournament in future years, a topic that Masiello felt was imperative to the advancement of the MAAC.
“There can be no sour grapes, there has to be complete buy in… let’s all have ownership, invest in our conference; and then I think great things will happen for this conference,” Masiello said.
On the floor, Iona led for all but 50 seconds of the game, with a lead as large as 13 in the second half. However, Iona’s junior guard Ricky McGill was forced to sit midway through the second half due to foul trouble.
Manhattan’s sophomore guard Aaron Walker Jr. was able to flourish and scored eight points along with four assists to keep the Jaspers in striking distance.
“I thought he did some good things offensively, I thought he played through mistakes tonight, which was the thing I was the most proud of,” Masiello said.
The Jaspers fell behind early in part because of 10 first-half turnovers. Masiello addressed this problem in the locker room at the half, and the team finished with 13 on the game.
Still they were overmatched by the Gaels’ 57.5 percent shooting in the second half, led by junior guard Schadrac Casimir’s 3-for-4 shooting from 3-point-range.
Manhattan was led by senior forward Zane Waterman, who notched 18 points and 12 rebounds while playing some physical basketball on the low block. Senior guard Zavier Turner also contributed 18 of his own points to the effort.
The Jaspers went into the third game of the day’s MAAC triple header without senior leader Rich Williams. Masiello called Williams day-to-day after the game, mentioning that Williams has been hampered by a hand injury he played through in the team’s last matchup with Niagara.
“We want to make sure we have him for when it counts,” Masiello said.
Both sides also agreed that Saturday’s tilt had a true tournament taste to it, while the physicality of the game helped keep it close and exciting. However, the game came down to Iona out-executing Manhattan; shooting better from the field, 3-point-range and at the foul line.
Masiello’s team was able to stay in the fight by crashing the offensive glass hard. The Jaspers were able to out-rebound the Gaels 17-4, and outscored them in second chance opportunities 19-6.
After two tough losses, the Jaspers will head home to face off with the Marist Red Foxes to try and get back on track. Historically, Masiello has put his faith in two things every year: the process of preparing for the MAAC Tournament, and his seniors leading the team by example. Even after a second consecutive loss on Saturday, Masiello is confident in his team and his blueprint.
“I have great faith in myself, I have great faith in [Zane Waterman], I have great faith in Rich Williams, [Zavier] Turner, Calvin Crawford…I’ll take those four to the MAAC tournament any day of the week and good luck to whoever is going against us,” said Masiello.