By Jesse Kramer
Three months into a largely disappointing season, the Manhattan Jaspers finally seem to be figuring things out. After defeating St. Peter’s on Sunday, Manhattan (8-15, 6-7 MAAC) made easy work of Canisius (15-9, 8-5 MAAC), defeating the Golden Griffins, 67-54, in a game where the Jaspers led by as many as 27 with 12:07 left in the second half.
“Tonight we came out and really had a great mentality,” said Manhattan coach Steve Masiello. “The tone got set by Mark Jackson and Donovan Kates with their energy and their mentality of coming out and defending and doing the little things.”
Kates got the Jaspers rolling early with a pull-up jumper on the opening possession. One possession later, he would get the assist on a layup by Rhamel Brown.
Jackson, as he has done in the past few games, came out with great energy on the defensive end. The redshirt sophomore locked down on Canisius’ perimeter shooters and was a big reason why the Golden Griffins, who are shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc this season, shot only 5-of-23 over the first 36 minutes of this game.
Manhattan opened up a 12-1 lead five minutes into the contest, but Canisius countered with the next six points to get back within five. The Jaspers would then finish the half on a 23-12 run to take a 35-19 advantage into the intermission, with Rashawn Stores’ 12 points and 3-of-3 shooting from beyond the arc leading the way.
Once Manhattan opened the second period on an 11-4 run, it was clear that the Jaspers had the game in their hands. They would take their 27-point lead on a Kates layup with 12:07 remaining, and the lead continued to hover above 20 points until the final two minutes, when Canisius caught fire from three-point range and forced a few turnovers to make the final score closer than the game actually was.
Despite facing a huge size advantage, Manhattan managed to outrebound the Golden Griffins. Although Brown had only three rebounds and sophomore forward Emmy Andujar had five, the Jasper backcourt combined for 12 boards.
“Anytime you go against a bigger team, (their) guards don’t work on block out technique,” Masiello said. “What we try to do is kill you with our guards on the backboard.” Masiello also said, “We missed tonight 19 shots but we had 7 offensive rebounds on those 19 misses. That’s a very high percentage.”
Brown overcame the challenge of 6’10” Jordan Heath in the post to score 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting while also blocking three shots and swiping a pair of steals.
“Canisius has a great size advantage,” Brown said. “I tried to use my quickness to get around their bigs, and it helped a lot.”
This game was especially huge for Kates and Stores, who have both struggled from the field at various points this season, and it could lead to a large confidence boost for these two guards.
“When the ball goes in, you turn it up,” Masiello said. “That leads to a deflection, that leads to a steal, that leads to a fastbreak. You get a dunk. It’s a chain reaction in basketball.”
Although Kates and Stores both had breakout games, freshman Shane Richards, who has been Manhattan’s best three-point shooter, was held without a trey for the second consecutive game.
“I don’t think (Richards’) scoring struggled at all. He’s known as a shooter; he missed three wide-open shots,” Masiello said. “Our thing with Shane is…we say, ‘You miss four, you’ll make the next five.'”
Manhattan will return to action on Monday night against Fairfield, which sits a game ahead of the Jaspers in the MAAC standings at 7-6.