While the nation was locked in to a thrilling triple-overtime game between the top two teams in the country Monday night, another marathon was taking place in Riverdale between Manhattan and Siena.
It took 55 minutes to decide, but Manhattan earned revenge over Siena with a 92-87 victory in triple-overtime at Draddy Gymnasium. The Jaspers, who were blown out in Albany 89-54 in December, have gotten healthier since that loss and earned the season split with the Saints.
One of the players who has returned to supplement Steve Masiello’s depleted Jaspers was Calvin Crawford. The sophomore forward poured in a career-high 15 points against the Saints in just his fourth game of the year. Crawford was key in the extra minutes, posting nine of his points in overtime, including the final points in both the first and second overtimes.
A player whose absence was felt on the other side of the court was Marquis Wright. The Saints’ point guard missed his third game with a stress fracture in his right foot expected to keep the junior sidelined at least six weeks. In Wright’s absence, Kenny Wormley and Lavon Long shared time at the point, but the team suffered 23 turnovers on the night.
The freshman Wormley held his own against the Manhattan press, but was forced to shoulder more responsibility when Long fell into foul trouble. The junior picked up two fouls in the game’s first five minutes, but was inserted back into the game with just under 10 minutes left in the half. It took just 21 seconds for Long to pick up his third foul of the half, and he was out of the game before anyone caught a whiff of overtime.
“That was probably the most important game for us to have Lavon because he handles the ball so much,” head coach Jimmy Patsos said following the game. “Our plan was to get Lavon in the middle and have him do some stuff but he was a little out of sync and I think the fouls early bothered him.”
Building through their youth, the Saints got a major contribution from another freshman: Nico Clareth. The Baltimore native was fearless under the pressure of overtime, notching seven of his 13 points in extra time. Clareth buried a 3-pointer to put the Saints up one in the final minute of the first overtime and scored the team’s final points of the second overtime.
“He’s got great enthusiasm and energy for the game,” Patsos said. “I’m really happy I get to coach Nico Clareth.”
Manhattan – who at one point this season played a game with just six men – placed five players in double figures for the first time this year. Shane Richards led the charge with 21 points including 10 in the overtime periods, while Rich Williams supported with 19 of his own. The two upperclassmen combined to shoot 6-for-10 from behind the arc.
“I think it defines our program,” Masiello said of his team’s effort. “I thought this was a great reflection of a bunch of kids that were overlooked, who are blue-collar, who don’t mind rolling their sleeves up, who don’t want credit. I thought it was a great indicator of our program, and Siena as well.”
RaShawn Stores and Crawford filled the stat sheet with 16 and 15 points respectively. Sophomore Zane Waterman achieved his first career double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds and at one point late in the first overtime showed his grit by diving headfirst into the Manhattan bench chasing after a loose ball.
“He’s growing,” Masiello said of Waterman. “He’s evolving into the player that we thought he was. He played behind Emmy last year and it was tough for him. He was out of position, now he’s playing more natural at the 4, splitting time at the 5. He’s finding his way.”
Though the Jaspers spread the ball effectively on the offensive end, their trademark defense remains their focus.
“It’s more (about) the defensive end,” Stores said following the game. “That’s where we bring our culture. When we do that, everybody’s going to be happy. If we keep everybody happy, they’re going to play hard.”
On the other end, Siena enjoyed a career game from Javion Ogunyemi. The junior poured in a career-high 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to notch his second consecutive double-double. Brett Bisping joined Ogunyemi in the 20-point club with his third double-double of the year on 20 points and 11 boards.
Ryan Oliver added 16 for the Saints, including a key 3-pointer to pull his team within one entering the final minute of the third overtime. Clareth’s 13 filled out the scoring for Siena.
The Jaspers now take the long trek to Buffalo to continue MAAC play against Canisius and Niagara starting Thursday, but then enjoy return trips from those two rivals the following week in Riverdale. Siena gets some more time to recover. Though they host Fairfield on Thursday, the Saints won’t have to play another game for eight days following that contest.
Vincent Simone covers Quinnipiac, the MAAC, and Hofstra among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.