Three Thoughts: Manhattan 72, St. Peter’s 58

Three thoughts after Manhattan’s 72-59 quarterfinal win over St. Peter’s on Saturday night. They advance to play Quinnipiac on Sunday.

Rhamel Brown is a Beast: The three-time MAAC defensive player of the year flashed his offensive potential Saturday evening.  Brown led all scorers with 18 points in the Jaspers’ decisive 72-58 victory over St. Peter’s.

“Rhamel Brown just wasn’t going home tonight,” Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello said.

Brown leads the MAAC and ranks third in the nation with 3.7 blocks per game and added two more to his total Saturday evening.  The senior forward was instrumental in helping Manhattan put St. Peter’s away in the second half.

St. Peter’s led Manhattan in points in the paint in the first half, but thanks largely to Brown’s aggressive play down the stretch, the Jaspers were able to flip that number to a 34-28 advantage by game’s end.  His presence down low also helped Manhattan win the battle of the boards 33-27.  Brown led all players with 10 rebounds as he recorded his second double-double of the year.

With Rhamel I thought we could force some rotations and mismatches,” Masiello said.  “Even when they weren’t scoring, Rhamel was doing a good job throwing it out to the perimeter.”

Michael Alvarado key to the Jaspers’ game plan: If there’s one thing the Jaspers do better than anyone else, it’s get to the free throw line.  Manhattan ranks second in the nation in free throw attempts per field goal attempts, and it is what helped the Jaspers pull away late in the second half against St. Peter’s.

Manhattan took more than twice as many attempts from the charity stripe as St. Peter’s and outscored the Peacocks 29-15 from the line.  The return of Michael Alvarado to the Jaspers’ lineup was vital to the team’s success from the free throw line.  The senior guard went 13-16 on his attempts from the line.

“Throughout the game coach was telling me to be aggressive on both ends,” Alvarado said.  “I missed the last two games, but I feel like I’m still there because of my teammates.  It was good being back on the court, but we still have a lot of things to do.”

Bright Future Ahead for St. Peter’s: Despite going 14-17 this season, head coach John Dunne can point to the Peacocks stretch in February as a sign of optimism heading into next season.

Desi Washington and St. Peter’s can point to winning seven of their final 10 games as a sign of a turnaround for next season. (photo courtesy: Stockton Photo)

“We won our last seven of our last 10 when things were looking grim six weeks ago,” Dunne said. “I’m proud of the way we responded in the last third of the season. I’m proud of my guys and we just are looking to get better moving into next year.”

The only senior the Peacocks lose is Chris Burke and their upperclassmen in Desi Washington and Marvin Dominique will have to lead the way if they are to make an extended run. After the game, Manhattan coach Steve Masiello was holding Washington and said after the press conference that he told him to keep his head up and to take this loss as a chance to lead.

“He’s really grown,” Dunne said of Washignton. “Everybody looks at stats so much these days, but they don’t know the inner workings of your team and when Desi got here he was really just a guy, he was just a shoot first guy. He’s grown into a guy that’s a good leader, he’s looking to try to share the ball and play the right way.”

Besides Washington the Peacocks have Dominique who proved over the course of the season that he can do almost anything. During Washington’s first season he had to take the reins on as the score first option and if Dominique can learn to optimize his shotmaking St. Peter’s will be dangerous.

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