It seemed like the start of another long season after Manhattan's struggles in the final minutes of the first half continued into the second half. Then the Jaspers caught fire in the final eight minutes. After a Jack Eggleston three-pointer for Penn (1-1) with 7:46 remaining, a George Beamon and-one sparked a 17-0 run for the Jaspers that would carry Manhattan (2-0) to a 59-54 win.
Manhattan stormed back and took its first lead since the 7:47 mark in the first half on a pair of Beamon free throws. On the next possession, Kidani Brutus hit a three-pointer from the right wing to bolt the Jaspers lead up to four points. Penn could not make any shots in the final minute, and Brutus hit one more free throw with 13 seconds remaining to put the score at 59-54.
Manhattan definitely had a period of rough points, but the Jaspers stepped up their game in the second half.
Manhattan found multiple players that can score
Three Jaspers scored in double digits, and Michael Alvarado was not far behind with eight points. Beamon led Manhattan in scoring with 21 points. Kidani Brutus scored 14 points, and freshman Rhamel Brown scored 10 points.
Once again, the Jaspers did not foul too much
The Jaspers only fouled 18 times against NJIT, and managed to lower that number to 15 times in the home opener against Penn. Brutus was the only player in serious foul trouble with four fouls.
The little guys can rebound
Out of Manhattan's 35 rebounds, 23 rebounds came from Alvarado, Beamon and Brutus. Brutus led the Jaspers in rebounding with 10 rebounds, recording his first double-double as a Jasper.
Alvarado appears to be on the way to becoming a true point guard
Alvarado was great against NJIT with 23 points, but he only recorded two assists, which is unacceptable for a point guard. Although Alvarado did not score as much against Penn, he dished out seven assists.
Manhattan's guards played very well, but with the exception of Rhamel Brown the Jasper big men were awful. Andrew Gabriel scored only four points on atrocious 1-for-13 shooting from the field. Of course, Gabriel was not all bad, hitting two clutch free throws down the stretch.
In addition, Robert Martina and Djibril Coulibaly really struggled against the Quakers. Both looked lost on both offense and defense. Martina has shown that he has lots of talent, but he has not yet been able to put it to good use. After a solid four point, seven rebound performance on Saturday, Martina only scored two points against Penn.
Coulibaly only played nine minutes, but in those nine minutes he was terrible. Coulibaly opened up the game with a turnover, then completely missed on a jump shot a few minutes later before missing the front end of a one-and-one. Barry Rohrssen made the smart decision by pulling him at that point.
The Jaspers will also have to work on perimeter defense. For most of the game, Penn was consistently getting open looks from beyond the arc. Manhattan was lucky that Penn only made 10 of its 32 three-pointers. Jack Eggleston made four three-pointers on his way to a 22-point performance.
Lastly, whether it is Rohrssen learning how to coach or one of his assistants helping him out, the Manhattan coaching staff made a great move having Beamon defend Penn guard Zack Rosen, who had a hard time scoring because of Beamon's length and athleticism.
When Beamon was not guarding Rosen, Rosen was able to get multiple open looks from three-point range. Hopefully, this move will be one in the line of many smart coaching moves by Rohrssen and his staff.
The Jaspers will play their final game prior to the Old Spice Classic on Saturday, November 20 against the Long Island Blackbirds.