Manhattan Jaspers Win Sixth Straight with an 84-81 Overtime Victory over Buffalo

Howard Goldin

Brooklyn, NY---December 21st was the date and Barclays Center the site for the first of two consecutive Saturday college basketball tripleheaders. The opening contest pitted the Manhattan Jaspers (9-2) against the Buffalo Bills (4-4). Both teams entered the contest on a hot streak, the Jaspers having won their last five contests and the Bulls were the victors in four of their most recent five.

Each coach expressed respect for the intensity of the players and the closeness of the contest in very similar words. Manhattan coach Steve Masiello commented, “I thought it was a great basketball game from two programs that really compete and get after it. We were fortunate because either team could have won that game.”

Bobby Hurlrey, Buffalo’s coach, one of the greatest guards in college basketball history when he played at Duke, remarked, “Everyone witnessed a great basketball game. I think that’s what makes our game what it is, games like this. Two teams played extremely hard. I thought we gave a winning effort and just didn’t make all the necessary plays down the stretch to win.”

The interest of the crowd was completely focused on the action on the court as the game was hard fought and competitive from start to finish. The players on both teams were making an exhaustive effort to gain the victory.

The score was tied three times in the first four minutes of the contest. Two free throws by Michael Alvarado gave the Jaspers a 9-8 advantage at 15:40. Thirty seconds later an altercation earned technical fouls to RaShawn Stores of Manhattan and Deyshonee Much of Buffalo. After the free throws were netted, the Bulls lead 14-9.

Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello spoke of the incident after the game, “There is no room for that in college basketball and it almost coast us a basketball game. They were trying to protect their teammates. They were not trying to do anything disrespectful. You have to stick up for your teammates, but you also have to be smart. That is not how you do it.”

After that play, the discord ceased, but the teams continued to play hard. The competition on court led to 56 personal fouls being called which resulted in 37 free throws for the Bulls and 36 for the Jaspers. Thirty attempts from the charity stripe were netted by the players of each team.

The Bulls appeared totally in command as they led by five, 76-71, with 33 seconds on the clock in regulation. A layup and free throw by the leading scorer of the Jaspers, George Beamon, cut the deficit to two. A free throw by Shannon Evans raised the lead to three with 16 seconds remaining. With five second left, Shane Richards was fouled on a three point attempt. The sophomore coolly netted all three shots to tie the contest for the 11th time and send the game into overtime.

The ending of the five minute overtime was just as dramatic as that of the second half. A three by Joshua Freelove of Buffalo resulted in the game’s 12th tie with 54 seconds left to play. A layup by Rich Williams 18 seconds before the buzzer sounded gave the Jaspers their ninth victory of the young season.

Other than George Beamon, who scored 22, Manhattan’s scoring was very balanced. Two players scored 10 points each, two scored 9 and two scored 8.

Masiello’s highest praise was given to 6-7 senior Rhamel Brown, who blocked two shots and stole the ball twice in the five minutes of overtime, “Rhamel Brown may not be the best scorer, but he is by far our most valuable player because he changes the game…He is one of the best big men in the country. Student-athlete wise he is a 3.0 student who does it the right way, he’s a class act, top five in the country in blocked shots, he is the anchor of our defense at a pretty good program.”