Monday Night MAAC Wrapup: Manhattan, Siena, Niagara Barely Victorious

Ari KramerSenior Analyst IIJanuary 26, 2009

In what was a wild night of MAAC games, only one team was able to walk away with an upset.

Fairfield 60Manhattan 65

After being embarrassed by Iona at Madison Square Garden, the Jaspers rebounded and appeared to be motivated to put another "W" on their schedule.

Manhattan (11-9, 5-5) started off on a 12-3 run, but let Fairfield (12-9, 5-5) back into the game—the score was tied at 25 by halftime. Coming out of the locker room, Manhattan scored the first eight points of the second half and led by 13 with 10 minutes remaining.

As soon as Manhattan's radio announcer, Ed Cohen, stated that Manhattan would need to continue to play hard on offense and defense in order to win the game, the Jaspers became lackadaisical and allowed the Stags to nibble away at the lead.

Fairfield got a boost of energy when its leading scorer, Greg Nero, decided his back would not keep him out of a winnable road game. Nero sat out the first 30 minutes, and he scored five quick points during the run—he finished with seven.

Brandon Adams hit two huge foul shots to put the Jaspers ahead by three points with about three minutes remaining. From there on, Manhattan remained in control. However, the Jaspers left their fans on the edges of their seats.

Manhattan was led by Darryl Crawford and Chris Smith—both guards scored 16 points and shot a combined 11-of-15 from the charity stripe. Foul shooting, which has severely hampered the Jaspers' ability to win close games, was still inconsistent. Manhattan connected on eight of their first ten foul shots, but started off slow in the second half and finished 22-of-33.

The main culprits of the lower percentage were Brandon Adams and Antoine Pearson. Adams hit three-of-four down the stretch to help preserve the win, but he shot a meager 50 percent in the game.

Pearson, who was once able to hit foul shots in his sleep as a freshman, continued to struggle from the charity stripe. The junior guard finished two-of-five from the line, but connected on a floater late in the game to help secure the victory.

One noticeable difference on the offensive end was Manhattan's shot selection. For the most part, the three-pointers that they shot were open or good looks. The shot selection paid off—the Jaspers shot seven-of-15 from deep, which enhanced their normally low field-goal percentage.

The Jaspers missed Herve Banogle's bulky presence down low—the senior had to serve his mandatory one game suspension for his ejection in Saturday's game—however, Smith and Andrew Gabriel grabbed nine boards apiece to make up for Banogle's absence.

Gabriel fouled out with over four minutes to go and the Jaspers clinging to a two-point lead. This seemingly gave Fairfield an advantage because Manhattan's only other player taller than 6'6" was the frail Laurence Jolicoeur.

Anthony Johnson, who struggled throughout the game, went to work against Jolicoeur in the post and got to the line. The only problem for Fairfield was that Johnson was shooting 49.1 percent from the stripe heading into the game—the result, two big misses that hindered Fairfield from cutting deeper into Manhattan's lead.

Fairfield could have used a healthy squad—Nero played with a hurt back and Herbie Allen wore a wrist brace. Jon Han was healthy, but he played like he was sick. The senior was a dismal two-of-12 from the floor.

The win was big for Manhattan because it allowed them to stay in the thick of the standings. Siena might be running away with first place, but the Jaspers are 5-5 and a game-and-a-half behind Niagara for second place. The Purple Eagles head to Riverdale for a match with the Jaspers this coming Saturday night.

Canisius 69Niagara 75

In other MAAC news, Niagara (15-6, 6-3) held off a hot Canisius (7-13, 2-8) team. Their record may not show it, but Frank Turner's exceptional play has kept the Golden Griffins in games against solid MAAC competition.

The Griffs took down third-place Rider behind Turner's 20 points. The little guy's 23 needed to be 25 to defeat Iona, but 22 points were enough to take down Marist. Tonight, Turner led the comeback, but his 22 points were not enough to beat the favored Purple Eagles.

Canisius shot well from deep and the free-throw line, which kept it in the game; however, their 20 turnovers led to too many Niagara points. 

Key to the game: Benson Egemonye. The senior scored 14 of Niagara's last 18 points and totaled 24 in the game. He was eight-of-11 from the floor and eight-of-nine from the charity stripe.

Iona 68Siena 69

Iona (10-11, 5-5) came back from a 13-point deficit in the second half and led Siena (16-5, 10-0) by one point with less than 10 seconds left, but Edwin Ubiles connected on one of his five makes to win it for the Saints.

Somehow, Siena continues to fend off these close calls. They won in overtime at Marist, barely defeated Manhattan, and were a Scott Machado three-pointer from losing to Iona (at home!).

As usual, the Saints had a balanced offensive attack. Senior Kenny Hasbrouck led the team with 16 points, but Ryan Rossiter, Alex Franklin, and Edwin Ubiles were all in double-figures. Rossiter, who is the latest MAAC Player of the Week, also grabbed 12 boards to finish with his fourth double-double of the season.

The Saints have what should be two easy games against Canisius and Saint Peter's before heading to Rider on Feb. 7.