Frustration is the most suitable word to describe the emotions of the Jaspers and their fans. After starting the season 7-3 with losses by two, three, and four points, Manhattan was defeated by 12 against American, 25 at La Salle, and 19 at Niagara.
As a team, the Jaspers have been very inconsistent on offense, mostly for the worse. Until tonight, Chris Smith and Devon Austin hadn't led the team in scoring since Dec. 5.
Tonight, the Jaspers' offense scored over 70 points for the first time since they scored 86 at Binghamton on December 20.
Unfortunately, Niagara scored 93 points and defeated Manhattan, 93-74.
The Purple Eagles are a bigger, stronger, and more aggressive team than the Jaspers, and Manhattan's weaknesses were exploited throughout the game.
Niagara forced a total of 19 turnovers and the Jaspers were too slow getting back on defense, which allowed the Purple Eagles to produce 33 points.
Niagara's size didn't affect Manhattan's ability to rebound the basketball—the Jaspers have managed to compete with larger teams on the glass this season—however, the size difference created more Manhattan fouls.
Going into tonight, the Jaspers fouled 18 times per game. Tonight, Manhattan fouled the Purple Eagles 26 times. Niagara is shooting 71.1 percent from the charity stripe this season, and they connected on 25 of their 32 foul shots tonight.
Every team will give up its share of points off of turnovers and foul shots, but the totals tonight were absolutely disgusting. You can't give up 58 points in that manner and expect to win the game.
Defense was not the only problem that Manhattan dealt with tonight.
After shooting 18-of-36 from the floor in the first half, the Jaspers lost their touch and shot 10-of-36 in the second stanza. This is part of the inconsistency that was mentioned above. They finally got production from Austin and Smith, but the rest of the team didn't produce.
Manhattan has two must-win games against Canisius and Marist before hosting Siena. The Jaspers can't afford to lose to either the Golden Griffs or the Red Foxes because they don't want to get buried early in conference play.
If the Jaspers lose two of these three games, frustrated Jaspers fans will need to realize that this team, constructed by Barry Rohrssen, will not be able to contend for the MAAC crown.