At this point Manhattan could probably teach Houdini some new tricks.
George Beamon hit a leaner from the left baseline with 0.5 seconds remaining and his the ensuing free throw to the Jaspers a 71-70 victory over Columbia at Levien Gymnasium on Tuesday night.
It was the Jaspers’ second dramatic victory in as many games this season. Manhattan beat La Salle in double-overtime in its first game.
“I’m done,” said head coach Steve Masiello. “I’m going on vacation tomorrow. I feel like I’m on game 40 right now. It’s great to be a part of these, especially when you win them, they’re always a lot better.”
Unlike the game against La Salle the Jaspers needed a number of things to go right to pull off this great escape. After two Grant Mullins free throws gave Columbia a 70-67 lead the Jaspers came down looking for a three. The Lions worked hard to try and take away any long-distance opportunities, but Maodo Lo was called for a questionable foul against Mike Alvarado. The Jaspers’ senior point guard missed the first free throw, part of a 3-11 night from the line for him. Alvarado made the second and then Beamon’s heroics kicked in.
Alvarado’s intentional miss was rebounded by Emmy Andujar whose shot went long and caromed right to the Jaspers’ star. Beamon wasted no time getting a difficult shot up for the tie.
Even though it is a new season, the loss – how it happened and the little plays down the stretch – will haunt Columbia again. Kyle Smith had put together an excellent game plan and the young Lions executed well until the final possession. Columbia had just 11 turnovers against heavy Manhattan pressure, while outscoring the Jaspers 36-16 in the paint.
Mullins led the charge in the end. The sophomore guard scored the bulk of his 23 points down the stretch. He finished 6-9 from the field and 8-8 from the free throw line. Mullins challenged every Jasper, including one play where he beat Manhattan forward Rhamel Brown to the basket one-on-one.
Even before the final play Beamon was spectacular. The Jaspers’ fifth-year senior kept Manhattan in the game with 28 points. He shot 6-9 from the field, including 3-3 from three and 13-14 from the free throw line. Beamon also got a hand from Shane Richards who went 6-8 from three and scored 19 points. Richards was especially adept at finding good looks from the wing in transition.
The two fouls down the stretch were tough breaks for Columbia. The referees called the game tight all night. There were 57 personal fouls called in the game and 75 free throw attempts. Both teams seemed to live at the line for long stretches. Down the stretch it almost cost the Jaspers as they shot 4-9 from the line down the stretch. The rotations were also affected. Ten players played at least 12 minutes for the Lions with no player playing more than 28 minutes.
While the Jaspers brought a large contingent down with them on the 1 train, there were a small number of Columbia fans in attendance. The students, who showed up in droves for the opener against UMES on Saturday night, had a much sparser showing on a Tuesday night.
Manhattan and its fans surely enjoyed the ride back though, because the Jaspers escaped again.