Bronx, NY- Despite the below freezing temperature in the Bronx, the strangely late starting time of 10 pm and the televising of the Manhattan-Iona game on ESPU, Draddy Gym in Riverdale was sold-out for the latest installment of the men’s basketball rivalry between MAAC powers, the Manhattan Jaspers (12-12, 9-6) and the Iona Gaels (20-6, 13-2) on Friday night.
Manhattan, a college in the Bronx despite its name, last clashed with its northern rival from New Rochelle in the MAAC final on March 14. In that game, Manhattan won the title by edging Iona, 71-68. One year earlier, the Gaels won the MAAC championship after a 60-57 victory over the Jaspers.
Iona entered the game on a six game winning streak, victorious in 11 of its last 12 contests. Manhattan has only lost one of its eight games on its home court this season, in overtime to Rider. The Jaspers won four of their last five games. Their last game was a second overtime loss to Rider.
It only took the visitors 5:30 to amass a double digit advantage. Iona’s star junior, A.J. English scored a basket followed by a free throw to give Iona a 17-7 lead at 14:32. English, the son of an NBA veteran of the same name, scored 11 of his team’s first 17. English was the only Gael on last year’s All MAAC First Team and likely will be elected to it again.
After the Gaels reached its largest lead of the first half, 19-8, at 13:09, the Jaspers, with the support of their fans, followed with an 18-7 scoring run to tie the score at 26 at 6:46. The Jaspers closed the run with 11 unanswered points. Iona dominated the closing minutes of the half with an 11-4 scoring run to take a 37-30 lead. Emmy Andujar, Manhattan’s leading scorer, was the only Jasper in double figures (11) in the half.
With a 7-2 second half start, the Gaels got their largest lead of the game, 44-32, at 15:01. With an extended 20-7 run by the Jaspers, which culminated in a three by perimeter shooting specialist Shane Richards of Manhattan, the Jaspers took their first lead of the contest, 52-51, with 9:16 remaining on the clock.
Iona scored the next seven points to move ahead by six. Manhattan moved to a deficit of only a single point on three occasions during the final minutes of the game until tying the score at 65 with 53 seconds left on an offensive rebound that resulted in a layup by Andujar. The game was decided with 29 seconds to go as English hit a three that broke the tie. It was another three point differential as Iona won 70-67.
The leading scorers were English and Iona freshman Shadrac Casimir with 22 each. The Preseason MAAC Player of the Year, David Laury, scored 11 and grabbed 9 boards. Andujar led the Jaspers with 17 points and 9 rebounds. Ashton Pankey scored 16 and Richards netted 12.
The Gaels shot with extreme accuracy from the floor, 24 of 46 (52%) and from the perimeter, 11 of 18 (61.1%) contrasted with the Jaspers 25 of 63 from the floor and 5 of 20 from beyond the arc. The game remained exceptionally competitive because the Gaels turned the ball over 21 times while the Jaspers had only 11 turnovers.
Each team will next play on Sunday afternoon as Manhattan hosts Fairfield and Iona travels to Quinnipiac.