Manhattan sent off senior Tyler Wilson with a flourish. The Jaspers put up 56 second-half points and routed Quinnipiac 95-74 in their home finale at Draddy Gymnasium Sunday evening.
For the first time in coach Steve Masiello’s six-year tenure in Riverdale, the Jaspers saw three separate players score 20 or more points. The effort was led by 26 points from junior Zane Waterman while Calvin Crawford matched a career high with 22 and freshman Aaron Walker Jr. set a new personal best with 20.
It was over nine years since the last time three Manhattan players reached the 20-point plateau. The feat was last accomplished in a February 10, 2008 victory over Canisius in which Rashad Green, Darryl Crawford, and Andrew Gabriel each tallied 21.
Manhattan led 39-36 at halftime and pushed its advantage to 11 in the early part of the second half. A 15-5 Quinnipiac run cut the Jaspers’ lead to just one with 9:35 remaining, but from then on Manhattan’s defense went into lockdown mode.
The Jaspers allowed just three Bobcat field goals in the game’s final twelve minutes, with one an inconsequential layup in the final sixty seconds.
“The thing I’m proud of is we didn’t get away from our system,” Masiello said. “We stayed with our system and wore them down. We held them to 37% in the second half, more importantly 2-10 from three. That was a byproduct of us getting to their legs because of our guards running and jumping properly.”
Manhattan’s 95 points represent their highest total in a game this season and the first time they have surpassed the 90-point mark in over a year. Their previous high this season was 88 in an overtime loss at Marist, and the last occurrence of scoring more than 90 was a 94-86 victory over Canisius on January 7, 2016.
Wilson, who was honored prior to the game as the Jaspers’ lone graduating senior, finished the contest with seven points and five assists. Masiello offered high praise for Wilson – who helped lead the Jaspers to back-to-back MAAC tournament titles in 2014 and 2015 – both before and after the game.
“I’m proud and happy for Tyler Wilson that his last game in Draddy will be on the note he deserved, and that’s that of a winner,” Masiello said after the game.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better sendoff,” Wilson added. “As far as being a part of the past championships, I’m thankful to play with great guys and hopefully we can win another one this year.”
While the Jaspers said a goodbye of sorts to their senior, it was their freshman who stole the show late in the game. Walker tallied 14 of his 20 points and all four of his assists in the second half, nearly outscoring Quinnipiac’s pair of vaunted freshmen on his own.
“He needs to understand what goes into being great at the college level,” Masiello said of Walker. “When he does, everyone better watch out. If he gets that, he’s got a chance to be really special.”
That Bobcat duo of Mikey Dixon and Peter Kiss tallied 13 and eight points respectively. Dixon added 12 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double. Chaise Daniels led Quinnipiac with 15 points and 13 boards for his sixth double-double of the year while Reggie Oliver added 11.
With the loss, Quinnipiac clinches its third consecutive losing season in league play. Since pulling even at 7-7 with their win at Fairfield February 6, the Bobcats have dropped four in a row including a pair of losses by over 20 points.
“We’ve lost our way defensively, both in our man and our zone,” head coach Tom Moore said. “When you come in here, you know they can get you sometimes with their pressure. You can absorb 22 turnovers against these guys if you’re playing great defense down the other end….but most of their scores were in the half-court. We never got our bearings when we played man to man defensively, nor our 2-3 zone when we played that defensively.”
With the win, Manhattan finishes the season with a 7-7 record in home games despite a disappointing 10-19 mark overall. But for anyone ready to bet against the Jaspers next month, do so at your own peril.
“I know this: when we get on the bus to go to Albany, I know the team will be ready,” Masiello said. “That, I’ll bet my life on. We understand this hasn’t been a great year for us; we’re the first to say that. We understand there’s reasons for that, but those reasons don’t matter. What matters is we have to be ready for the MAAC tournament. That’s what we have to do, and that’s the only way this year can be made okay, is by that MAAC tournament.”
Vincent Simone covers the MAAC, Hofstra, and more for NYC Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.