Manhattan shot 70.8% from the field in the second half as they erased a nine point halftime deficit and pulled away from Quinnipiac 84-77 Thursday night.
The Jaspers improved to 6-2 on their home court at Draddy Gymnasium and pulled even with the Bobcats in the all-time series at three games apiece since Quinnipiac joined the MAAC prior to the 2013-14 season.
The Bobcats, who have struggled offensively this season and rank dead last in the nation in 2-point percentage, enjoyed one of their best offensive halves of the season. Quinnipiac shot just under 42% from the field and 6-for-11 from 3-point range in the first half and posted 11 assists against seven turnovers.
However, Manhattan’s pressure forced multiple Quinnipiac miscues in the final minute of the half, leading to four unanswered Jasper points. Manhattan continued the onslaught into the second half where they extended that four point run into a 12 point run, all but erasing Quinnipiac’s first half advantage.
A Rich Williams layup at the 17:04 mark gave Manhattan their first lead since a 2-0 advantage in the opening minutes of the game. RaShawn Stores delivered the Jaspers a 47-45 lead with a 3-pointer just over a minute later, and from that point on Manhattan would not trail again.
Here are four thoughts from Manhattan’s come from behind win over Quinnipiac:
1.) Manhattan needed a group effort to win. Senior guard Shane Richards was held to a dismal 1-for-12 from the field and 1-for-4 from 3-point range, but finished with 12 points thanks to a 9-for-10 mark from the charity stripe.
“You look at what he’s done to A.J. [English], Justin [Robinson] and Khallid [Hart] respectively and how they’ve taken out the best players,” Manhattan coach Masiello said of Quinnipiac coach Tom Moore and his team’s defensive focus. “We knew coming into the game that they were going to take Shane away. Shane was 1 for 12 tonight, but what I was more proud about Shane was he goes and gets seven assists with one turnover and he facilitated from the point forward spot.”
The Jaspers placed five players in double-figures for just the second time this season. The first occurrence came in Manhattan’s 92-87 triple overtime win over Siena in early January.
Sophomore forward Zane Waterman led the squad with 19 points and completed his second double-double of the season with 11 rebounds. Williams enjoyed perhaps the most efficient night of his career; the junior guard finished 7-for-9 from the field for 18 points. Sophomore Calvin Crawford matched Williams’ point total, while Stores added 15, helped by a 3-for-4 mark from behind the arc.
2.) Quinnipiac could not capitalize on a strong offensive performance. As noted, to say Quinnipiac has struggled to score this season would be too kind. According to KenPom.com, the Bobcats trail the league in Effective FG%, 2-point %, and Free Throw Rate.
However, Quinnipiac’s defense has been one of the best in the league. Based on the same KenPom metrics, the Bobcats lead the league in Effective FG% defense as well as both 2-point and 3-point defense.
All too often the Bobcats have let their offensive deficiencies mar a stellar defensive performance, but Thursday night flipped the script. Daniel Harris led the charge with 16 points on a nearly perfect shooting night. The junior college transfer was 5-for-6 from the field and a perfect 5-for-5 from behind the arc.
“We lost so many games where we played bad offense for the whole game but kept going to the well and holding teams to 35-36%,” Moore said. “As a coach you look at it like you wasted a great defensive performance, and a night like tonight you get one half of defense and don’t get the other one, it’s a shame to lose this game.”
James Ford Jr. added two 3-pointers en route to a 13 point performance while freshman Abdulai Bundu posted 12 points and led the team with eight rebounds.
3.) Manhattan matched the Bobcats on the boards. Quinnipiac entered Thursday night leading the nation in rebounds per game (44.7) and offensive rebounds (17.6) while Manhattan has struggled in the rebounding department (29.0 rpg).
On this night though, the Jaspers held Quinnipiac in check on the glass. The Bobcats managed 39 rebounds, just their fourth time this season being held below 40. While Quinnipiac enjoyed a 16-11 edge on the offensive glass, Manhattan kept the total close. The Bobcats won the rebounding battle by just one, 39-38.
“We put a big emphasis on rebounding these last couple days of practice,” Crawford said. “We really just locked in on that, go after every rebound, gang rebound the ball.”
“I just wanted to get every rebound,” Waterman added. “That was my mindset coming into the game.”
4.) Quinnipiac’s hopes of a first round bye are fading fast. The Bobcats had renewed hope in their chances of breaking into the MAAC’s top five after a three game winning streak over Niagara, Fairfield, and Marist between January 30 and February 4. That streak improved Quinnipiac to 5-7 in MAAC play and in the mix for the final tournament byes.
However, losses in their last two at Saint Peter’s and Manhattan have put a big dent in those plans. While Monmouth, Iona, and Siena appear to have separated themselves as the MAAC’s top trio, the Peacocks and Jaspers are leading contenders to grab the final two byes.
Quinnipiac missed out on chances to make up ground on both Saint Peter’s and Manhattan, but will get another opportunity to close in on a contender Saturday afternoon when they host in-state rival Fairfield.
“We need it for our confidence again,” Moore said of the contest with Fairfield. “We felt good about ourselves winning three in a row and now we lose two in a row. You want to win at home. It becomes a big game, but down the stretch here now they’re all going to be big.”
Beginning with that contest against Fairfield, three of the Bobcats’ next four games will be against the Stags, Peacocks, and Jaspers. Manhattan takes to the road for four in a row, culminating with a rematch at Quinnipiac on February 21.
Vincent Simone covers the MAAC, Hofstra, and more for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.