Manhattan still has plenty of fight in it.
Jaspers men’s basketball coach Steve Masiello’s team continues to try to battle its way through a slow start and limited roster. Manhattan showed no panic as it held on for a 71-60 home victory over St. Francis College on Dec. 14 to snap a five-game losing streak.
“We stay with our process,” Masello said. “We grind it out. We get better everyday. We’re a blue-collar program that rolls our sleeves up. We’re not afraid of adversity.”
An obstacle so far this season for the Jaspers (2-7) has been the lack of depth because of injuries. Against St. Francis (3-7) the team only had seven healthy players. Shane Richards and Thomas Capuano played 37 and 31 minutes respectively.
Manhattan built a 41-27 at halftime, but St. Francis attempted to come back on three separate occasions. It cut the deficit to eight points in the second half. However, Manhattan regained control with less than five minutes to go in regulation as Zane Waterman and RaShawn Stores both notched three-pointers to keep the Jaspers comfortably ahead.
“The first half was kind of slow,” said Terriers forward Chris Hooper, who scored 15 points and had eight rebounds. “We went in for break and coach told us to pick it up more and trust the offense. Trust what we do on offense. Get the ball inside and play from the inside out. That’s what we did. It picked up a little bit.”
Manhattan on the other hand clicked on offense from the beginning. It scored the first seven points of the game, ultimately holding on to the lead the whole game. Tyler Wilson and Rich Williams had key three-pointers each before Capuano hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to close the half, giving the Jaspers the 14-point lead.
“It’s been a common trend for us,” Masiello said. “We do a lot of good things and we do a lot of bad things. I think we improved in some areas defensively. The thing that I’m struggling with is coaching with the lack of depth. You see that with the numbers. I’m happy we got the win, but I thought we made some mistakes.”
Richards led Manhattan with 19 points. He went 5 of 12 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line with eight rebounds and two steals. The Jaspers shot over 55 percent overall and made 8 of 13 three-pointers. Williams added15 points and seven boards. Waterman notched 13 points and Wilson had a game-high seven assists along with nine points.
“We have to do what it takes to win,” said Richards, who played in a more defensive role for Manhattan against St. Francis. “If it means me getting rebounds, I have to do it. We rebounded collectively as a group, against a strong offensive rebounding team.”
Antonio Jenifer led St. Francis with a career-high 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Tyreek Jewell notched 12 points and Yunus Hopkinson had nine.
“Give Manhattan all the credit,” said St. Francis coach Glenn Braica. “They got off a plane from Memphis Sunday and came out and played with great energy, great focus and we didn’t. There are no excuses. We need to learn that you have to play every night. These games happen but we can’t accept them.”