As usual, Manhattan fans filed through the turnstiles to watch the Jaspers play their dreaded rival, the Iona Gaels. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this game, but I will give my recap of what I saw on TV, what I listened to from the announcers, and what I gleaned from the stats.
Manhattan got off to a little bit of a slow start, taking three-and-a-half minutes before scoring their first points on a Rico Pickett jumper. Iona would take a 21-13 lead with 10:19 left in the first half.
A new reason for Manhattan fans to cheer is the eligibility of Mohamed Koita. Koita was originally committed to UCLA, but after UCLA took away his scholarship, Manhattan swooped in to grab him. Koita sat out of the first 18 and finally got onto the court against the Gaels on Friday night.
With 5:25 remaining in the first half, Koita scored the first points of his career on a jump shot. That would be Koita's only field goal of the game in 25 minutes.
The Jaspers (7-12, 2-7 MAAC) stayed close with Iona for the remainder of the first half, and the Gaels (14-6, 6-3 MAAC) took a 32-28 advantage into intermission.
With 13:38 left, it looked like all was lost for the Jaspers as Rashard McGill knocked down a three-pointer, capping a 7-0 run by the Gaels and giving Iona a 46-35 lead. Barry Rohrssen signaled for a Manhattan timeout and must have said something in the huddle that got his squad going.
On the second possession after the timeout, still trailing 46-35, Darryl Crawford knocked down a three-pointer. After an Iona turnover, Pickett was fouled and made both free throws. On the ensuing Manhattan possession, Rico Pickett knocked down a jump shot.
The 7-0 run in response to Iona cut the deficit back to four. With 7:45 left, Rico Pickett hit his first three-pointer of the night, making the score 49-48 and the Iona its smallest lead since the 16:16 mark in the first half. Pickett came back on the next possession and made a layup to give Manhattan their first lead since the 16:30 mark in the first half.
Iona would respond with the next four points, giving the Gaels a two-point, 54-52 lead. However, the Gaels would be held scoreless for the next four minutes. With 3:58 remaining, Mohamed Koita hit a free throw, cutting the lead to one point.
On the next possession, Rico Pickett could not hit a jumper from the wing. Manhattan would get another chance for the lead on the following possession, but Koita could not knock down a three-pointer. Manhattan got two chances on the next possession, but Pickett missed both of his jump shots.
Manhattan was in need of a defensive stop in the final minute, trailing 54-53. Iona ran the shot clock under 10 seconds. Scott Machado drove to the basket and could not hit the layup. Manhattan grabbed the rebound.
With 17 seconds left, Manhattan called a timeout at midcourt.
Sound familiar? Date back six days and two games.
The Jaspers were tied with Canisius on their home floor after coming back from down 22. They had the ball with 27 seconds and called timeout. Rather than drawing up a play that would free up a good shot, Barry Rohrssen chose to have Rico Pickett run down the clock and take a contested jump shot. Wouldn't Barry learn from his mistakes a week ago in tonight's game?
Once again, Manhattan put the ball in the hands of Rico Pickett as he ran down the clock, waiting for the last shot that would give Manhattan a win. As Pickett went up for a game-winner with four seconds left, he was stripped by Jermel Jenkins. Kyle Smyth scooped up the loose ball and was fouled by Darryl Crawford with 2.1 seconds left, sending Smyth to the line for the first time of the night. Smyth knocked down both free throws, giving Iona a 56-53 advantage.
Kevin Willard chose not to use one of his two timeouts and let the game play on. The Jaspers inbounded to Rico Pickett who put up a half-court shot that was off the mark. The Jaspers dropped another close game at home in a game that could have, and should have, won.
Iona did not have much on the stat sheet on Friday night. The Gaels made 6-of-17 three-pointers for 35.3 percent. Iona only made 10-of-16 free throws for 62.5 percent. Total, the Gaels made 20-of-59 shots for 33.9 percent. The Gaels were outrebounded 39-34, while picking up an average 13 assists. The Gaels played solid, but not outstanding, defense with seven steals and six blocks. The Iona guards handled the ball fairly well against the pesky Manhattan guards, only committing 14 turnovers.
Rashard McGill led the Gaels in scoring with 13 points. McGill also grabbed seven rebounds.
Kyle Smyth played a solid game with 10 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and two steals. Smyth also hit the two big free throws at the end of the game.
Jermel Jenkins had five points and three steals, one of them being the game-changing steal on Rico Pickett with four seconds left.
Despite having a huge size advantage on the Manhattan big men, Jonathan Huffman only scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds.
Alejo Rodriguez was plagued with foul trouble and only scored eight points while grabbing four rebounds in 13 minutes.
Scott Machado scored seven points on poor 2-of-11 shooting. Machado had three assists while turning the ball over four times.
The Jaspers also shot 10-of-16 from the charity stripe. The Jaspers made 19-of-58 shots (32.8 %) from the field, and were 5-of-12 (41.7 %) from beyond the arc. Manhattan had 39 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 steals, and nine blocks. Manhattan turned the ball 17 times and only committed 14 fouls.
Rico Pickett led the Jaspers in scoring with 22 points on 9-of-24 shooting, 14 of them coming in the second half. Pickett also grabbed five rebounds and blocked two shots.
Darryl Crawford showed his A-game on Friday night with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting, seven rebounds, and five assists. The only downside to his performance was his five turnovers. Crawford cramped up in the final minute of the game and had to sit out. If he had been available in the final minute, the game could have played out differently with Manhattan having both of their main threats on the floor.
Manhattan's big men really struggled on Friday night. Andrew Gabriel scored four points, Laurence Jolicoeur scored three, and Brandon Adams scored two. Gabriel was the only one of these three to make a field goal. In total, they shot 2-of-13 from the field and 5-of-6 from the foul line. Andrew Gabriel also had three rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. Jolicoeur had three rebounds. Adams grabbed five rebounds and blocked two shots.
Patrick Bouli was in the starting lineup once more on Friday. Bouli scored two points early on, but did not score, or shoot, for the rest of the game. Bouli finished 1-of-1 from the field and missed his only free throw attempt. Bouli grabbed six boards, dished three assists, and swiped two steals.
Antoine Pearson only played 13 minutes off the bench. Pearson did not score, but he dished out three dimes, and grabbed two rebounds.
Mohamed Koita scored three points in his college debut. Koita had a nice bloc in the first half, had one assist, and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds (six in the first half). Koita's shooting was not good as he made only 1-of-9 shots. Koita was 0-of-4 from beyond the arc. Koita must be a better shooter if he wants to live up to the hype.
Kevin Laue got to play a minute on national television on Friday night. Laue played the final minute of the first half and made a big defensive stop on a fast break.
Final score: Iona 56, Manhattan 53
Iona returns home to play Fairfield on Sunday afternoon.
The Jaspers host the Siena Saints, who they gave a game on Monday despite losing 83-68, on Sunday at 2 PM.
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