by Whit Anderson, Staff Writer
MBB: Iona 80, Manhattan 57
Even on Valentine’s Day, there was no love lost between the Manhattan Jaspers (11-11, 7-6 MAAC) and the Iona Gaels (8-12, 6-7 MAAC) when they squared off against each other Friday night at the Hynes Athletic Center. The Jaspers blew out their rival at Draddy Gym earlier this month, but this time the roles were reversed and Manhattan suffered a painful 80-57 loss.
It didn’t take too long into the first half before the game started getting away from the Jaspers. They got off to a horrific shooting start, hitting only 18 percent of their shots which allowed Iona to get an 11-5 lead by the 13:54 mark in the first half. The Jaspers were mostly settling for outside looks, but even the close shots they took were popping out as if there was a lid on the rim.
The Gaels, on the other hand, were getting anything they wanted, especially from the free throw line area or below. Manhattan couldn’t deflect any of Iona’s inside passes or stop their dribble penetration, giving the Gaels all the high percentage shots they wanted. With 10 minutes left in the half, Iona owned a 22-9 lead.
One of the main reasons for Iona’s dominance was the play of senior E.J. Crawford. The big guard utilized his 6’6 frame to get to his spots around the midrange area where he couldn’t be stopped all night. Although he shot only 5-of-13 from the field, he used his IQ to bait the Jasper defenders into fouling him. He lived at the free throw line, making 11-of-13 to give him a team-high 21 points.
With 8:15 to go until halftime, the Iona lead was 26-11. Every Gael starter had at least four points, and they were winning the rebound battle 13-7. The Jaspers couldn’t make a mark on the offensive or defensive side of the ball. It seemed as if Iona got to the free throw line on almost every possession in the final minutes before the half, and they made Manhattan pay by making nearly all of them. Meanwhile, the Jaspers converted 1-of-7 free throw attempts in the first 20 minutes and only 9-of-21 on the night.
The game looked to be all but over at the break as the Jaspers trailed the Gaels 45-22 heading into the second half. However, Manhattan deserves some credit for the energy they displayed coming out of the locker room. Their defensive intensity and offensive rebounding helped to get the game within 20 points around the 16-minute mark. This run was led by senior Pauly Paulicap, who has been the Jaspers’ energy spark all season. He ended his night with 10 points and a few emphatic blocks.
Despite the slight comeback, the Iona lead was too large to overcome. Iona was still able to stick to their game plan of getting the ball inside the free-throw line to either score or get fouled. This, combined with the Jasper offense still not being able to get anything going, made their rally attempt tough. Manhattan’s main scoring threats in Samir Stewart, Tykei Greene, Elijah Buchanan, Tim Reynolds, and Warren Williams combined for just 31 points on 40 shots. The team overall made 34 percent of their field goals and 22 percent of their threes.
Iona’s lead never got smaller than 20, and much of the credit had to be given to guard Isaiah Washington. He finished with 14 points, but also did a great job of controlling the pace of the game and breaking the Jaspers off the dribble. He reminded everyone why he was Mr. New York Basketball back in high school with St. Raymond.
The Gaels clearly have the talent to compete in the MAAC, and the way they’ve been playing lately indicates that they’re finally playing up to their potential.
Coach Maisiello wasn’t as upset in the post game interview as one might’ve expected him to be, understanding that while the Jaspers didn’t play well, it also just wasn’t their night from the start of the game.
“Iona came out ready… they had been playing really good basketball since we last played them,” Masiello said.
Instead of reflecting more on what happened, he wanted to prepare for the Siena game on Sunday noting that the Jaspers “need to have a quick turnaround.’”
“I think going into tonight they [Siena] are 10-0 at home, so that’s where all the focus has to be on now.”
Manhattan couldn’t get the job done in Albany as they fell to a surging Siena squad by a final score of 65-52. The season series between both schools is now even with Manhattan’s 81-69 victory over Siena having come on Jan. 12.
After their victory over Manhattan on Sunday, Siena (12-10, 8-5 MAAC) is now 12-0 on their home court.