Manhattan survived a late surge from Quinnipiac to spoil Senior Day and earn their first victory on the Bobcats’ home court, 63-59, Sunday afternoon in Hamden, CT.
The Jaspers were paced by Shane Richards, who led all scorers with 21 points and finished 4-for-8 from behind the arc. Rich Williams joined Richards in double figures with 14 of his own.
Manhattan got off to a hot start from the perimeter as their first three baskets came from 3-point range. Including two from Richards. The Jaspers rode that momentum to an eight point lead at halftime and never trailed during the final 20 minutes. In all, Manhattan held the lead for over 37 of the game’s 40 minutes.
Quinnipiac’s offense finally kicked into gear in the second half, but could not overcome what at its peak in the second half was a 13 point Manhattan advantage. The Bobcats shot 56% in the final 20 minutes and closed to within one entering the final minute, but late miscues saw them fall to 6-12 in MAAC play while Manhattan improved to 9-8.
Here are three thoughts from Manhattan’s victory at Quinnipiac:
1.) Shane Richards made up for last year in a big way. When the Jaspers visited Hamden last season, it was the Bobcats who came away with a 73-59 victory. Perhaps the biggest reason for that result was the fact that Richards’ point total matched the number on his jersey.
Manhattan’s sharpshooter was held scoreless on an 0-for-11 shooting line a year ago, but more than made up for it with a game-leading 21 points this time around.
“He got us off to a great start,” head coach Steve Masiello said of Richards. “He’s a tough player. No disrespect to anyone, but I think it’s hard to keep great players down. They did a great job on him and they have historically, but I think his offense was a little better tonight.”
With his second of four 3-pointers on the afternoon, Richards reached 300 career buckets from behind the arc. It was his tenth game this season eclipsing the 20-point barrier.
2.) Quinnipiac has yet to find that killer instinct. The Bobcats have struggled late in games this season and once again had chances to pull out a victory in the final minute but came up short.
After Dimitri Floras’ jumper pulled the Bobcats within one entering the final minute of regulation, RaShawn Stores was called for an offensive foul on the Jaspers’ next possession, setting Quinnipiac up with a chance to win. It was once again Floras who was asked to take the shot, but the sophomore’s 3-point attempt bounced off the rim.
Following a pair of Manhattan free throws, the Bobcats once again had an opportunity to tie the game, but a feed inside led to a costly turnover from forward Chaise Daniels which allowed the Jaspers to seal the game at the charity stripe.
“Against most teams in the middle of that zone [Chaise] gets probably two dribbles to do something,” head coach Tom Moore said. “Against Manhattan you really get just one dribble, and that one dribble better be between your legs and protected. What Manhattan does a great job of is they don’t let you get that second dribble and the lay-in for the big guy.”
On the other side of the court, the Jaspers have excelled in close late-game situations. Over the last two seasons, Manhattan is 26-3 when leading with five minutes to play.
Daniels did match senior Giovanni McLean with 15 points to lead the Bobcats. It was Daniels’ fourth consecutive game in double figures.
3.) The Jaspers remain in the hunt for a MAAC tournament bye. Manhattan’s hopes of securing a top five seed in the upcoming conference tournament took a hit in the last week with a loss at Monmouth and a devastating one point loss Wednesday at Saint Peter’s.
That loss to the Peacocks was particularly damaging because they are of the team Manhattan is battling for a bye. Fortunately the Jaspers got some help when Monmouth took down the Peacocks 82-75 in overtime at the same time that Manhattan was earning their win over Quinnipiac.
The Hawks now lead the league at 15-3, 1.5 games ahead of Iona in second place. Siena, Fairfield, and Saint Peter’s follow third through fifth, each one game ahead of the next. However, with their win Manhattan 0.5 game behind the Peacocks, setting up a pivotal showdown Tuesday night at Draddy Gymnasium.
“There’s a lot of heavyweight fights left,” Masiello said of the stretch run, which also includes a meeting with Iona Friday night. “I’m excited about it. The ball’s in our court so to speak. We’ve just got to take care of our stuff. That’s all.”
The Jaspers are 8-1 in the MAAC tournament over the last three years, but have never had to play their way out of the opening round.
Vincent Simone covers the MAAC, Hofstra, and more for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.