Manhattan 67, Rider 51

Welcome back George Beamon.

The Jaspers’ senior swingman returned to the lineup after a brief absence due to a shoulder injury and immediately made his presence felt with 21 points and nine rebounds as Manhattan led Rider wire-to-wire at Draddy Gymnasium on Friday night.

The 67-51 victory reaffirmed Manhattan’s place amongst the elite contenders in the MAAC. Even without Beamon in the lineup the Jaspers are a good team. It’s just that with him they’re special.

“There’s some presence [Beamon] has over these guys that a switch goes off,” Masiello said. “I don’t know if it’s his ability to go get rebounds in traffic. I don’t know if they know he’s going to bail them out with a bucket. I don’t know quite what it is. We know how good he is… But I couldn’t tell you what he does. He just has a presence about him that the guys love and it kind of puts them at ease.”

While most people know Beamon due to his elite scoring ability, it’s actually in the defensive end where the redshirt senior seems to make the biggest impact. Rider came into the game as one of the best offenses in the MAAC, but the Broncs ground to a halt in Riverdale.

Manhattan held Rider to just 13-48 (27%) shooting from the field. Rider made one three and committed 17 turnovers. After 20 minutes they had scored 17 points and Manhattan had blocked more shots than Rider made from the field. It didn’t quite finish that way, the Jaspers only blocked 11 shots, but it was still a dominating defensive performance.

The Jaspers fumbled a bit on the offensive end. Play was sloppy at times, and Manhattan committed 16 turnovers of its own. Beamon wasn’t quite his efficient self. He needed 19 shots to score his game-high 21 points as he shook off the rust of not playing for two weeks. Mike Alvarado slid into more of a distributor role with 12 points and seven assists.

It didn’t really matter though because Rhamel Brown and Ashton Pankey dominated the paint. Manhattan outscored Rider 38-22 inside and the 16-point difference was the same as the final margin of the game. Brown had five blocks in 18 minutes and Pankey finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks in perhaps the most complete performance of his sophomore season.

“[Pankey] wants it so bad,” Masiello said. “He’s one of the most misunderstood young men there are. I got into him so bad this week. I tried to break him as best I could and when I finally did this monster came out.”

Brown and Pankey started the game on the court together and for a little while it seemed like Rider might never score. The Broncs went the first eight minutes of the game without making anything besides a free throw. The suffocating defenses allowed the Jaspers to build a 16-point lead by halftime.

“That’s [Brown]. Blocking shots. Helping us when we get beat. He’s a great player to have,” Beamon said. “He’s my MVP for the team.”

Rider made a run and closed the gap to four points with 15:05 remaining, but an 11-0 Manhattan run ballooned he lead back out to a comfortable 15 points and the Jaspers coasted to victory.

Manhattan’s next challenge is Sunday against what will be an undermanned Quinnipiac squad. Ousmane Drame missed the Bobcats’ game on Friday against Iona and head coach Tom Moore said that the other half of QU’s intimidating frontcourt pairing will also miss Sunday’s game at Draddy. Beamon was injured early in Manhattan’s 81-76 loss in Connecticut 15 days ago. This time he’ll be ready.

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