By Isaiah Rosario, Assistant Sports Editor
The men’s basketball team’s season came to a close in the first round of the MAAC championship tournament after a defeat by Marist.
The Jaspers came in as the sixth seed and the Red Foxes came into Atlantic City as the eleventh seed for the 2023 MAAC tournament.
The last time these two teams met, the Red Foxes blew out the Jaspers by 23 on Feb. 23. On a brighter note, the Jaspers had led the head-to-head matchup 24 to 22.
The game opened up with five unanswered from Marist center Patrick Gardner. On the other side, the Jaspers’ first points were from Manhattan forward Adam Cisse which made the game 5-2 in favor of the Red Foxes. The Jaspers started from the field slowly as they shot only 1-6 from the field with around 14 minutes to play.
Manhattan guard Samir Stewart brought the Jaspers within three after a long three from the top of the key to make the score 12-9 at the first media timeout. The scoring issues for the Jaspers remained throughout the majority of the first half as they shot 37.5 percent from the field.
Despite the poor shooting for the Jaspers, guard Nick Brennen hit a three to bring the Jaspers within one with under six minutes to go. Turnovers, bad shots and Gardner continued to kill the Jaspers late in the first half as the Red Foxes extended their lead by eight. Marist Foward Jaden Daughtry made an and-one but missed the free throw as he extended the Red Foxes’ lead to 10.
After a three from Marist guard Kam Farris, the Red Foxes continued to extend their lead as the lead hit 19 points. Marist ended the half on a long 18-0 run and led 36-17 at the half. The shooting was the key to the first half as the Red Foxes shot 42.4 percent compared to the Jaspers’ 25.9 percent.
After a massive scoring drought that dated back to the first half, Brennan put the Jaspers on the board to open the second half. Stewart went in for a drive and missed, but the center Josh Roberts slammed it home as he brought the Jaspers within 16. With a great play on both ends, Roberts continued to help the Jaspers as he tallied three blocks and a couple of dunks with just above 13 to play in the second half.
Marist and Manhattan continued to trade buckets at the midway point in the second half as the Red Foxes led by 14. With seven minutes and 41 seconds left, Roberts hit two free throws that cut the lead to 13.
After a defensive stop on the inbound, guard Anthony Nelson made an and-one and sank the free throw, bringing the Jaspers within 10. Nelson came out strong late in the second half as he scored four unanswered to bring the Jaspers within six. After a pull-up jumper from a guard and forward Logan Padgett, Manhattan went on an 11-0 run which brought the Jaspers within four.
Nelson spoke about what was going on in the head of the Jaspers as they were able to cut the lead to four.
“We just believed in each other,” Nelson said. “We’ve been in this position multiple times this year. We know what it takes to come back from deficits like that.”
With a chance to bring the Jaspers back within four, Roberts missed two critical free throws. Missed shots and free throws were critical for the Jaspers as the Red Foxes were able to extend their lead to eight with just above a minute to go.
After a late surge for the Jaspers, it was not enough, as their first-half struggles played a critical loss. The final score was 61-50, with Marist on top. The leading scorers for the game were Nelson with 15 points and Gardner with 22 points.
After the game, interim head coach RaShawn Stores gave a statement about the loss in the first round of the MAAC.
“Coach Dunne did a great job tonight with Marist,” Stores said. “We started out a little slow, we got to do better. We had to do better at that. Other than that, I’m proud of these young men. That’s all I could ask for. They believed all night, all day, every game. We faced adversity and we just continue to handle it on and off the court. One day at a time, one practice at a time and one game at a time. We just fell short tonight.”
After a tough loss tonight, that is the last time that Roberts and Nelson will share the court as they are both 5th years. Both of them reflected on their time here in Manhattan.
“I feel like I learned a lot,” Nelson said. “I definitely feel like I became a better leader. Especially this year with the help of coach Stores. I feel like I learned a lot you know … Coach Stores helping me become a better man, a better father and just a better human genuinely.”
“Manhattan has helped me tremendously with experience on and off the court and through closed doors,” Roberts said. “It was good for me to be here, it definitely helped develop me as a man.”