On a last-second shot by Emmy Andujar, the Manhattan Jaspers upset Iona on the Gaels' home court, 75-72. Manhattan, who defeated Fairfield on Sunday, improved to 11-7 on the year and 4-2 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The disappointed Gaels, who let a substantial lead slip away, fell to 13-4 on the year and 5-1 in the MAAC.
Iona lead by as much as 17 late in the first half, at 37-20, and at the half, 39-22, but it was a game of two halves, as Jaspers decisively outscored the Gaels in the second half, 53-33.
The early-going was dominated by the passing of Gaels point guard Scott Machado, the inside play of power forward Mike Glover and the outside shooting of Sean Armand and Kyle Smyth.
Sean Armand, who had 32 points last week against Siena, started for the Gaels and was hot, making four-of-five three-point shots in the half. Armand is splitting time at the 3 for Iona with Kyle Smyth, who came in and hit a trio of his own three-point shots in the opening half, as the Gaels went out to 39-22 lead.
In the second Mike Glover scored the 1,000th point of his two year Iona career on a neat alley-op pass from Scott Machado who was driving down the lane. The senior scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half but was limited to 27 minutes played by fouls.
Sloppy play and poor shooting by Iona let Manhattan back in the game. With 7:32 left, Scott Machado missed a layup when Iona still led 65-51. With 5:15 left, the Jaspers cut the Iona lead to under 10, at 65-56, on a jumper by Kidani Brutus. Two free throws by Manhattan's Rhamel Brown brought the Jaspers within seven, 65-58.
With four minutes left and Iona holding a 69-62 lead, Kyle Smyth and Lamont Jones missed jump shots, while Mike Glover missed a free throw. The Gaels missed seven straight shots late in the game. Then Machado took his fourth foul with 2:00 left.
After two free throws by Andujar reduced the deficit to two, Manhattan applied a full-court press, trapping Machado. Michael Alvarado stole the ball and made a layup to tie score at 69 with 1:53 left.
Smyth and Machado had chances to give Gaels a lead, but missed jumpers. Mike Glover was fouled going for Machado's rebound, then missed the first of two free throws and made the second to give Gaels a 70-69 lead with 32 seconds left.
A layup by Rhamel Brown gave the lead back to Manhattan at 71-70 with eight seconds left. A foul on the play let Brown convert the three-point play to produce a 72-70 lead.
It looked bleak for Iona, but "Momo" Jones put up a soft jumper from the right side of the lane to tie the game at 72 with three seconds left.
After a Manhattan timeout, the Jaspers had less than two seconds to get off a shot or face overtime. The inbounds pass went to Emmy Andujar, who elevated a 24-foot jumper from just right of the top of the key. The ball went off the glass and in, igniting a Manhattan celebration and creating a stunned silence over the capacity Iona crowd.
Manhattan coach Steve Masiello pulled his team off the court while the referee looked at the in-house replay. After a moment of deliberation, the ref gave the touchdown sign to indicate the shot was officially good. A photo taken from an overhead camera synchronized with the shot clock showed that the shot was off with four-tenths of a second left.
After the game, I asked Iona coach Tim Cluess about his team's defense, which gave up 53 points in the second half:
Need to keep our guys playing hard, we are a small team, and if are our guys are not going to fight and battle in there, we are going to lose. The games we have lost have been on the boards. Our guards need to get in there and not watch. Their bigs are getting in and cleaning up. That is the story of our year. My fault.
About the play of point guard Scott Machado, who had 16 assists and continues to lead the NCAA in assists per game, coach Cluess said:
He is playing so well everyone is waiting for him to make a play, Scott has been a tremendous leader on and off the court.
About the general energy level of the team Coach Clues said:
They played 40 minutes, we played 26 minutes. Our guys need to have some hunger for 40 minutes.
For first year Manhattan coach Steve Masiello, a graduate of Kentucky in 2000, the win was sweet. The team looked transformed from the Jasper team that Iona routed at Draddy Gym last February. They now have solid wins over Hofstra, Fairfield and Iona.
George Beaman had 21 points. Emmy Andujar, the hero of the last-second shot, had 17 points, as did Rhamel Brown, who battled Mike Glover under the boards all night and grabbed 11 rebounds.
The loss for Iona, although their first in MAAC play, leaves them soul searching about why they can't play a full 60 minutes and about their defense. The loss eliminates their aura of invincibility in the conference and suggests a race for the regular-season title with Manhattan, Fairfield and Loyola.
The Gaels will be back in action Sunday afternoon in New Rochelle playing Loyola, who is 11-4 on the season.
Ken Kraetzer covers Iona basketball and West Point football for WVOX 1460 AM in New Rochelle, NY and Sons of the American Legion Radio. His Twitter address in SAL50NYRADIO