by Pete Janny, Asst. Sports Editor
The Manhattan Jaspers (4-15, 2-5 MAAC) returned home after four straight road tilts to host the Marist Red Foxes (7-11, 2-4 MAAC) for an MLK Day showdown.
With both teams hovering in the cellar of the MAAC standings, this game had higher stakes than the typical mid-season conference game. An early surge by the Red Foxes and an inauspicious Manhattan start positioned Marist in the driver’s seat the rest of the way en route to a 62-46 triumph.
The Red Foxes preyed on the Jaspers defense early and often in this one. Marist’s lethal introduction was ignited by senior David Knudsen’s immaculate start from downtown. Knudsen drilled his first three attempts from beyond the arc to help galvanize his flank and hastily compromise Manhattan’s morale.
Faced with an early deficit, Manhattan needed to retaliate. Freshman Elijah Buchanan answered the call and stepped up big for his team in the opening stanza. Buchanan finished the first half with eight points by sneakily infiltrating the paint to draw fouls to keep his team in striking distance. Coach Masiello hopes Monday’s game will help accelerate Buchanan’s development.
“He’s a talented freshman. He was a great scorer in high school so we know what he’s capable of,” Masiello said of Buchanan. “For some guys it takes a little longer to get adjusted so hopefully tonight he got a little confidence and did some things that could help him.”
Marist threatened to bury Manhattan when they opened the second half on a 7-2 run. The embattled Jaspers, however, refused to cave. Manhattan returned the favor with a 6-0 run of their own to cut the Marist lead to six at 37-31. Much to the chagrin of the Manhattan faithful, the Jaspers wouldn’t creep any closer. A three point dagger courtesy of Isaiah Lamb recaptured the momentum for the Red Foxes who cruised to the finish.
The final box score reflected Marist’s superior play. The Red Foxes outrebounded Manhattan 34-27 and coughed it up 13 times to Manhattan’s 15. Meanwhile, the offensive woes continued for Manhattan as the team shot an abysmal 34.1 percent from the field to go along with a 25 percent clip from behind the arc. Monday night’s 46 point showing marked the fifth occasion this season in which Manhattan has failed to score at least 50 points. The Jaspers are winless in such games.
Knudsen paced Marist with 21 points while freshman Warren Williams continued his meteoric rise leading Manhattan with 15 points. The freshman sensation’s breakout season is highlighted by nine double-figure scoring performances.
With a MAAC record of 2-5, Masiello had no intentions of issuing any bold prophecies for his young team. Instead, Masiello continues to preach patience and insists his team is merely focused on their next test.
“Just go one game at a time. That’s all we do,” said Masiello.
Deep down, Masiello knows his team is fighting to stay afloat and is in need of a lifeboat soon.