The Iona-Manhattan rivalry is officially back.
Manhattan (11-7, 4-2 MAAC) entered Thursday's matchup as a 13.5-point underdog, and if anything, the spread seemed too small after a lopsided first half.
Iona (13-4, 5-1 MAAC) opened up a 30-13 lead after 13 minutes of play and went into the intermission ahead of the Jaspers, 39-22.
The Gaels shot 9-of-16 from beyond the arc in the first half and were led by sophomore Sean Armand's 12 points. The nation's leader in assists, Scott Machado, dished out nine assists in the first half alone.
Manhattan fought back in the first half and trailed by just 13 points at the 15:12 mark after Rhamel Brown's layup, but the Gaels countered with a run of their own, which was capped off by a Kyle Smyth three-pointer.
But then, the Jaspers turned up the pressure, and the shots started to fall. They went on a 19-4 run to cut the deficit to two points with two minutes remaining. During that stretch, Iona shot just 1-of-12 from the field.
Michael Alvarado then stole the ball from Armand and converted on an open layup to knot the score at 69-69.
Iona controlled the ball in the final minute, but Machado's short-range jumper did not fall. Machado then got his hand on the ball to keep the play alive, and Michael Glover ultimately grabbed the rebound and was fouled by George Beamon.
After missing the first free throw, Glover drained the second, and Iona was back on top by a point.
Out of a timeout, Alvarado missed a well-contested layup, but Brown was there for the rebound. Brown immediately went back up and made the put-back, getting fouled in the act of shooting. Brown, a 57.9 percent free-throw shooter, calmly drained the important free throw to give Manhattan a 72-70 advantage.
The Gaels went to Arizona transfer Lamont Jones on their final possession. Jones drove to his left and, while tumbling to the floor, drained a jumper from the foul line with 3.3 seconds on the clock.
Alvarado sprinted up the floor, and Steve Masiello called for a timeout from the bench with 1.3 seconds to play.
The Jaspers had trouble inbounding from just in front of halfcourt, but Alvarado found Emmy Andujar and tossed a high-arcing lob to the freshman, who was standing just outside the three-point arc with his back to the basket. Andujar spun around and threw up a desperation three-pointer, which banked off the glass and through the net as the buzzer sounded.
The refs went back to the monitor to review the shot, and they ultimately concluded that the shot counted, giving Manhattan a 75-72 win on the road against the No. 1 team in the MAAC.
Where will Manhattan finish in the final 2011-12 MAAC standings?
The Jaspers celebrated on the court, and former coach Bobby Gonzalez, who was in attendance, hugged Steve Masiello, who was his assistant from 2001 to 2005.
Manhattan was led by Beamon's 21 points and seven rebounds. Beamon shot 6-of-13 from the field and 7-of-8 from the foul line.
Brown and Andujar also scored in double digits for the Jaspers—each with 17. Brown also had 11 rebounds and three blocks, while Andujar had six rebounds and shot 5-of-5 from the charity stripe.
As a team, Manhattan turned the ball over just 11 times for their second lowest number of the season.
Iona was paced by Glover's 18 points and eight rebounds. He became the third player in Iona history to score 1,000 career points in fewer than 60 games on a bucket in the first half.
Machado posted a new career high in assists with 16. The senior point guard also had eight points and five rebounds.
Smyth was the only other Gael in double figures with 12 points, while Randy Dezouvre and Jones had nine and seven points, respectively.
With this win, the Manhattan Jaspers proved that they are once again a legitimate contender in the MAAC. They currently stand at No. 3 in the MAAC—a half-game behind Loyola (MD), who plays at Fairfield on Friday night.
The Jaspers enter a stretch of six straight games against teams from the bottom half of the conference on Saturday night. They host Siena on Saturday and then play both Marist and Niagara twice, with a game at Canisius sandwiched in between.
After that stretch, Manhattan will have a rematch with Iona at home on Feb. 4.
Follow Jesse Kramer on Twitter @Jesse_Kramer for more college basketball news and information.