Manhattan came out with intense energy from the tip and sent a message that it can’t be counted out in the MAAC with a 67-54 victory over Canisius at Draddy Gymnasium on Thursday night.
The Jaspers led 12-1 after first five minutes and outscored the Golden Griffins 35-19 in the first half on the way to the victory.
“It was something we focused on a lot in practice this week, just hands, energy,” said Donovan Kates. “We just know that’s the key to us.”
The energy was most evident on the defensive end, where Canisius couldn’t find any easy shots. Jim Baron’s team made just four shots from the field during the first half and finished 15-44 (34 percent) for the game. Manhattan clogged passing lanes and forced 15 turnovers in the game. It was Canisius’ lowest scoring game since it scored 45 points in a January 3 loss to Fairfield.
“We wanted to disrupt them,” Kates said. “Canisius as a team plays a lot in rhythm. They shoot in rhythm and get crisp passes off, that’s when they’re at their best. If we mess with that then I feel like we can disrupt their offense a lot.”
Those turnovers led to 22 points for Manhattan, but the Jaspers were also very willing to play deliberate offense and force Canisius to guard for all 35 seconds. There were only 59 possessions in the game. When Manhattan didn’t get a good shot early it ground through its ball screen offense.
“Where we really try to control tempo is with our offense,” said Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello. “If we don’t have numbers we’re going to make you guard us… That’s where we really control tempo. We’ll make you guard us for 25, 26 seconds.”
To make matters worse for the Griffs, Manhattan shot 7-13 from three. Four players scored in double-figures led by Kates’ 14 points. RaShawn Stores scored 13, including a perfect 3-3 from distance.
“I thought the tone got set by Mark Jackson and Donovan Kates,” Masiello said. “With their energy and their mentality of coming out defending and doing the little things and it carried over to everyone else on the team.
Those little things permeated throughout the team during a first half in which the Jaspers seemed to do little wrong. They then pushed the lead out to as many as 27 points with 12 minutes remaining before Canisius closed down the final deficit during garbage time.
Down on the block Manhattan forced a stalemate on the boards and Rhamel Brown was able to use his quickness on the block to bother Canisius’ big defenders. Brown was a perfect 6-6 from the field and scored 13 points. He also had three blocks and two steals in 26 minutes.
“I tried to use my quickness to get around their bigs and it helped a lot,” Brown said. “The fact that we always want to move it makes it harder for the team to dig and help over.”
Alshwan Hymes scored 16 points starting in place of Harold Washington, who had been sick earlier in the week. Most of those points came in garbage time. Billy Baron scored 14 points, but was 3-10 from the floor for Cansius. With the loss the Griffs dropped to 8-5 in MAAC play. Manhattan is now just one game under .500 in the league at 6-7. This new, slower tempo Manhattan team is grinding and winning. The Jaspers have played 63 possessions of fewer in their past five games and are 3-2 during that stretch. Considering how wide-open the MAAC is a little bit of energy and momentum can go a long way.