Manhattan overcomes slow start to win Battle of the Bronx

Manhattan got off to a slow start against Fordham, but it used its experience to bounce back.

The Jaspers from their early struggles to beat the Rams 71-57 in the 107th “Battle of the Bronx” held at the Barclays Center on Dec. 22. Manhattan has now won the game three of the last four years. Jaspers coach Steve Masiello saw his team make strides in the victory.

“I thought our team really showed great poise, showed their experience by not getting rattled, not getting too down or too up,” he said.

The Jaspers found their rythem midway through the first half, as they went on an 18-4 run led by two threes by Shane Richards and a three by Zane Waterman. Richards then hit his third triple of the half to put Manhattan, which went 5-9 from behind the arc in the first half, up 30-23. ?

Fordham coach Tom Pecora said, “We did a poor job with Richards,” Pecora said. “We were in a defense where we switch assignments on screens and dribble handoffs, twice he got really good looks off of those.”

Manhattan (4-7) continued to shoot the three-ball well in the second half. Richard Williams started the half with back-to-back treys to make it 36-27. Emmy Andujar, who scored 14 points, would put In four of the Jaspers next eight points to cap a 48-14 rally going back to 13:44 of the first half. It put Manhattan up 52-30. Andujar was names the game’s MVP.

“This kid is what college basketball is all about, this kid right here,” Masiello said. “What he’s been through, how he handles himself. If we get 13 of him, he’s a coach’s dream.”

The Rams (3-6) didn’t go away. Mandell Thomas, who had 14 points, hit a three to cut the Manhattan lead to 61-51 with 2:37 left. After Ashton Pankey connected on one of two free throws, Chris Sengfelder made a layup to bring the Rams with in nine.

But that was a close as Fordham, which opened the game on 16-4 run would get. The Rams shooting 12 of 25 from the free throw line hurt them.

Moving the Battle of the Bronx to the Barclays Center didn’t hurt the atmosphere of the contest. It’s a venue Masiello believes can help the rivalry.

“I thought it was great,” Maseillo said. “I’ll go play at Rucker, it doesn’t matter to me. It’s really, the venue’s more about the fans and the alumni, what they like. I don’t care where we play. What I want to do is get more brand recognition for this rivalry. I think it’s one of the best rivalries in college basketball, I really do. It has so much history and tradition.”

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