Photo courtesy of Manhattan College Athletics.
By David Cordova
This season has started off rough for the Manhattan Jaspers, as they have started off on a losing note, as they have struggled through a rough non-conference schedule and lost their first five conference games in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play.
But January is the time for all teams to show what they are made of and last night’s game against Niagara was an opportunity to show that you can never count out a team with a losing record, especially when everyone is expecting very little from them.
Manhattan 78, Niagara 69
At the start off the first half, both teams were neck & neck. But then Niagara went on an 7-2 run to bring their lead to 18-11, with 10:29 left in the half.
Manhattan stayed close, but missed plenty of shots, which allowed the Purple Eagles to use their running game to fruition. Niagara got a lot of their points based off of the contributions of junior guards Khalil Dukes and Matt Scott, their leading scorer, as they went up 33-25, with 2:36 left in the first half.
But the Jaspers would not stay down long, as they trailed by two, 34-32, with less than a minute left after a three-pointer by sophomore Tom Capuano. But the Purple Eagles would go into the half leading by four, 36-32.
The second half would start off the same for Niagara as they got three consecutive baskets by sophomores Dominic Robb and Chris Barton to bring the Purple Eagles up ten, 42-32, with 18:47 to go.
Manhattan would continue to make shots along the way and cut their deficit to three, 52-49, with less than 12 minutes to go, after a basket by junior forward Calvin Crawford. They then tied the score at 54-54, with 9:42 left and then took a lead off a Crawford jumper as the Jaspers led 57-54, with 7:50 to go.
Then the Jaspers continued to hold the momentum in the later stages of the second half, ignited by a three-pointer by junior guard Zavier Turner to help bring them up six, 67-61, with 3:52 to go. Niagra would get as close as 69-65 with 44.3 seconds remaining after two free throws by Robb. But Manhattan would hold on for the victory, which would snap their three game losing streak.
Turner led Manhattan with 21 points and six assists and Capuano added 13 points and six rebounds, while junior Samson Usilo also contributed with 12 points and nine rebounds. For Niagara, Scott led with 21 points and Robb added 15 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.
Footage courtesy of Manhattan College Athletics.