After last season’s 21-13 record — with better than three times the number of wins as the previous year — the Manhattan Jaspers men’s basketball team had good reason to be optimistic heading into 2012-13. A poll by coaches in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference rated the Jaspers for second spot, behind defending MAAC champion Loyola. Other polls ranked them in the top spot.
However, the Jaspers entered their two-game home stand this past week with only a 4-10 overall record, and 2-2 in the MAAC. After a disappointing 78-70 loss to MAAC rival Iona on Jan. 6, the Jaspers hoped that the familiar atmosphere and supportive crowd at Riverdale’s Draddy Gymnasium would provide some incentive.
Not so, game one of the home stand was a 69-60 loss to Rider, on Jan. 10. Rider was the perfect opponent for the struggling Jaspers. The Broncs also had a record below .500 and like Manhattan, was struggling to win games in the MAAC.
From a scoring standpoint, the first few minutes of the game looked like it was being played by junior high school players. Neither team registered a point for the first three-and-a-half minutes of the game, and the Jaspers didn’t score until about a minute later.
Much of the first half was scattershot, with the Jasper’s getting in early foul trouble. This forced Manhattan to put smaller players on Rider’s Daniel Stewart, who took advantage of the mismatches, to earn a double-double by halftime.
The Jaspers trailed 28-10 at the break.
Manhattan went on a 14-5 run in the second half and was within one point, at 54-53, with 4:31 remaining. But a layup by Stewart and free throws by Jonathon Thompson sealed the victory for the Broncs.
Manhattan’s junior forward Rhamel Brown had a double-double, scoring all of his 15 points in the second half after getting in foul trouble in the first. Freshman forward Shane Richards matched the high score of his short but impressive career with 18 points, all on three-pointers.
Rider outrebounded Manhattan 48-32 and hit 24-of-36 free-throw attempts. The Jaspers went 9-for-19 at the line, while shooting 36.8 percent (21-57) from the field.