Monday, March 09, 2015

Manhattan: 2014-15 Metro Atlantic Men's Basketball Champions


ALBANY, N.Y. -- Ashton Pankey had 21 points and 10 rebounds, Emmy Andujar added 18 points and 11 rebounds, and third-seeded Manhattan beat top-seeded Iona 79-69 on Monday night to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title for the second straight year.
It was the third straight time the New York City rivals had met for the MAAC tournament title and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and the defending champion Jaspers (19-13) rallied late to win it again. Manhattan improved to 4-2 against the Gaels in the MAAC tournament.
Iona (26-8) was 17-3 in the conference in the regular season, posting two close wins over Manhattan -- 70-67 on the road in mid-January and 79-75 at home a month later.
The Jaspers closed the season with 17 wins against five losses and had won six of seven, its last loss coming at Iona 10 days ago.
Donovan Kates had 13 points and Shane Richards 11 for the Jaspers. Pankey earned the tournament's MVP honors.
Iona junior guard A.J. English was 7 for 10 on 3-pointers in a 95-77 semifinal win over Monmouth on Sunday and 6 of 10 against Siena in a 74-71 victory on Saturday and had a key hand in seven close victories. He was a non-factor in the second half of this one, failing to score and attempting only three shots after a riveting close to the first half.
David Laury had 24 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and added five assists for Iona. Kelvin Amayoscored 11 points ,while English was 3 for 11 for 10 points and Schadrac Casimir also scored 10.
Amayo converted a layup off a pretty feed from Laury to tie it at 60-all with 7:01 left but missed the free throw after he was fouled.
After Richards sank two free throws, Amayo then missed a soaring one-handed dunk try as he attempted to beat the Manhattan press. Seconds later, Andujar converted a fast-break layup at the other end to give Manhattan a 64-60 lead with 6:22 to go.
Laury's three-point play had the Gaels back within a point, but Kates drained a long 3, his fourth of the game, and Pankey followed with two free throws and a leaner in the lane to boost the Manhattan lead back to 71-63 with 4:03 left and the Gaels had no more rallies left.
Manhattan squandered an 11-point lead in the opening half and led by just a basket at the break. Richards and Kates each hit 3s to key a brief spurt to start the second and Pankey's 18-foot jumper gave the Jaspers a 47-40 lead with 12:27 left.
But the Jaspers went cold, missing three straight times down the floor and the Gaels rallied. Laury's dunk and lay-in and Casimir's 3 from the right corner moved Iona within a basket, a bank shot by Laury tied it at 49-all and a free throw by Amayo gave Iona a 50-49 lead with 12:15 left, its first lead in nearly 20 minutes.
Iona trailed for most of the first half, hitting just 2 of 13 shots during a dry spell before Kelvin Amayo hit a pretty driving scoop and sank the free throw to complete a three-point play and give the Gaels a 20-19 lead midway through the period.
RaShawn Stores scored nine points during a 13-2 run that gave Manhattan 32-22 lead with 5:56 left.
A double technical was called with 5:16 left in the opening period when English and Stores along the baseline as Iona was attacking, and then the Gaels surged.
English, Iona's leading scorer at 20.2 points per game, was held to just 1-of-5 shooting and two points for the first 18 minutes. He then made two free throws and two long 3-pointers to pull the Gaels to 39-37 at halftime.
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TIP-INS
Manhattan: Head coach Steve Masiello, assistant strength and conditioning coach Heshimu Evans and announcer Chris Williams have been part of all five appearances by the Jaspers in the NCAA Tournament since the program joined the MAAC for the 1981-82 season. ... Pankey averaged 18 points in the two previous games against Iona, shooting 70.6 percent (12 of 17) and 12 of 13 from the line.
Iona: The Gaels entered the game shooting 40 percent as a team from beyond the and were coming off a 19-for-35 effort in their semifinal win against Monmouth on Sunday. They finished 5 of 22 (22.7 percent) against the Jaspers. English combined to shoot 13 of 20 on 3s in tournament victories over Siena and Monmouth but was 2 for 8 in this one. ... Despite allowing five 3-pointers and shooting just 35.7 percent (10 of 28) in the first half, the Gaels made 14 of 15 free throws to keep pace. ... Head coach Steve Masiello celebrated his 56th birthday on Monday.
NEXT UP
Manhattan: NCAA Tournament.
Iona: Awaiting postseason matchup.
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