Rico Pickett Leads Manhattan to Quarterfinals; a Date With Siena Awaits

Sam BlumCorrespondent IMarch 5, 2010

RALEIGH, NC - MARCH 20:  Luis Flores #3 of the Manhattan Jaspers drives by Jamaal Levy #10 of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the second round game of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the RBC Center on March 20, 2004 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Demon Deacons won 84-80.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It just hasn't been a good season for the Manhattan College Jaspers. The Jaspers are a mere 10-19 on the season, with a 4-14 mark in conference play. They have had tough loss after tough loss, which basically took them out of contention in their conference.

However, tonight was a different story...tonight was a better story. Manhattan exploded for a season-high 94 points in a 94-79 victory over Loyola (MD), a team they had lost to just five days ago.

It was the first round of the MAAC tournament in Albany, NY (home of the Siena Saints). In order to win the tournament, the Jaspers will need to win four games in four days.

Alabama transfer Rico Pickett, who has been a bright star all season, scored 33 points off the bench, 23 of them coming in the first half—a half in which the Jaspers had 51 points.

Darryl Crawford had 16 and Brandon Adamas had 14 for the Jaspers, who now have to face No. 1 seed Siena in what will essentially be a home game for the Saints. 

Loyola was led by Shane Walker, who had 26 in the season ending loss. 

It was a whole new team, a rejuvenated team, one that has not been present all season. A win like this will makes you wonder if the Jaspers have a shot tomorrow against one of the best teams in MAAC conference history. 

The Jaspers were 0-2 against Loyola coming into tonight, but found a way to keep a steady lead the whole way against the Greyhounds. Manhattan is also 0-2 against Siena, however the Jaspers were able to keep both games close. 

The win was not just big for the Manhattan program—which has faltered since being one of the more dominating mid-majors in the country back in 2004—it was also big for head coach Barry Rohrrsen, who is in very dangerous waters after not being able to bring success to Riverdale.

His offense has showed little spark, and it seems that he might rely on Rico Pickett a little too much.

However, tonight the Jaspers can sleep easy for at least one more day in Albany as they prepare for the Saints. Tip time is set for 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. The game will be available locally on the MSG network.