New York, NY—The Manhattan Jaspers (2-6) made a rare recent visit to Madison Square Garden at noon on Sunday to play in the opening game of the Holiday Festival against the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers (6-4). The game was the first at MSG for the Jaspers since January of 2009. They had not been scheduled in the Holiday festival since2003. Interestingly, Rutgers last played in the showcase of metropolitan area teams in 2012.
After the contest, Manhattan coach Steve Masiello blamed his team’s poor early record on too many road games, “The mistake that I made was that I shouldn’t have scheduled this many games on the road. We’ve played in Draddy Gym once. I don’t know how many teams have done that. That’s the mistake I made.”
Sunday’s game was initially quite competitive as the score was tied three times and neither team led by more than three points during the first 10 minutes. After the last tie at 6-6, Rutgers took a lead that retained throughout the remainder of the contest. The first half ended with a 10 point Rutgers advantage, 35-25.
The head coach of the Jaspers spoke about the first half deficit, “We came out really flat tonight, I thought. No excuses for that. I think our first half play was kind of un-Manhattan like, which is something we have been struggling with a bit.”
A second half turnaround by the Jaspers cut the deficit to two points three times late in the game, but an 11-5 finish by the Scarlet Knights protected the laed and led to the 63-55 win for Rutgers. Manhattan did outscore Rutgers in the second half which prompted Masiello to remark, “I thought we came out in the second half and did a lot of good things.”
A story within a story was the play of the high scorer of each team, Kadeem Jack of Rutgers and Emmy Andujar of Manhattan. The two seniors were teammates at Rice High School. Jack, a Queens’ native, scored a game high 24 points on 8 of 14 from the field and 8 of 8 from the charity stripe. He also blocked three shots. Andujar, a native of the Bronx, scored 21 on 7 of 11 from the floor. He stole the ball twice and dished four assists. Both tied for a game high of 9 boards.
Both New York City born players were pleased and proud to be in MSG. Andujar remarked, “It was a huge privilege playing against him [Jack] in Madison Square Garden.” Jack enthused, “It’s a great feeling. It’s special. I’ve been playing here since high school.”