Manhattan Basketball Falls to Iona in Overtime

Masiello joined former-mentor Rick Pitino’s (right) coaching staff as Director of Basketball Operations. (From left to right) Ricky Johns, Steve Masiello, Taliek Brown, Rick Pitino. LAURA MCCARTHY/COURTESY

By: Caroline McCarthy, Senior Writer

The roar of the sixth borough was described as a hostile environment for the Iona Gaels on Friday night as the Manhattan College Jaspers battled into overtime on their home court. Draddy Gymnasium was packed to the brim with Jasper fans and their Iona rivals cheering on their respective teams until the Jaspers fell 84-76 in overtime. 

“Great atmosphere,” interim head coach RaShawn Stores said. “I want to thank the 6th Borough, Manhattan administration and everyone for coming out. The alumni and student sections – it was a great atmosphere for these young men. I am so proud of this team and to see the support tonight.”

Possibly the most noticeable person in the gym – presumably because of the multiple cardboard cut-outs brought by Iona fans – was former Manhattan head coach Steven Masiello, who has found a place on his former mentor Rick Pitino’s coaching staff after being terminated by the Jaspers just weeks before the start of the season. 

Iona fans l held a Masiello cardboard cut out behind the visiting team’s bench. LAURA MCARTHY/COURTESY

As reported by LoHud, Masiello was a ball-boy for Pitino when he briefly coached the New York Knicks. He then walked-on to Pitino’s University of Kentucky roster and was a member of the Wildcat’s 1998 championship team. Later, Masiello coached under Pitino for the first time as one of the top-assistants at University of Louisville for six-years before taking a head coaching position at Manhattan in 2011. 

Last year, Masiello took on his mentor for the first time and the Jaspers beat Iona 74-72 in this rivalry match. Now, he has found refuge on his former-rival team’s bench as the Director of Basketball Operations for the Gaels. 

“That was for Masiello,” said Iona’s second leading scorer Berrick JeanLouis in regards to the win. 

The Jaspers, though projected to lose this game, held their own against the Gaels. The score tied five times during regular play and the lead changed four. 

A three-pointer by Nick Brennan in the second half changed the tone of the game for Manhattan. This shot sparked a 9-0 run for the Jaspers, putting them just three points behind the Gaels at 51-48. James Jewell, a new member on the Jaspers’ roster, and Josh Roberts were key players during this stretch. 

“I’m very impressed with them,” Stores said. “It’s a team full of guys who are blessed and grateful for their moment. When nobody believed in most of them or some of them, you’re starting to see these young men shine.”

In the final three minutes of the second half, the Jaspers came back from a 15-point deficit to tie the score at 68. Iona took the lead three times in the final two minutes, but the Jaspers stayed right there with them. Roberts tied the game at 65 with a layup with 61 seconds left on the clock. Osborn Shema earned a three-pointer for the Gaels, which Stewart countered with just twenty seconds remaining. 

The Jaspers took a small lead at the beginning of overtime, only to be rescinded by a 13-2 run from the Gaels in the final minutes. 

The top scorers for the Jaspers included Stewart with 18 points – nine of which were essential three-point shots – Brennan with 12 points off nine 3-points shots, and Jewell, Nelson and Watson with 10 points each. 

Top scorers for the Gaels were Walter Clayton-Jr. With a game-high 21 points and JeanLouis with 18 points.