The problem for Manhattan College has brewed for a few games now.
Turnovers, the bane of every head coach’s existence, have reared their ugly head with unsettling regularity for the Jaspers.
They turned the ball over 16 times in a recent outing against Fairfield, and followed that with a 15-turnover performance in a home game versus Siena.
While the Jaspers were able to escape with victories in both contests against a pair of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference bottom-feeders, they were not as fortunate when they stepped up in weight class to take on a Canisius team that rolled into Draddy Gym last Friday night toting a 5-1 conference mark and a share of first place.
This time it was 19 turnovers — including 12 in the second half — that helped do in Manhattan as the Golden Griffs scored 20 points off Jaspers’ miscues en route to a 59-48 victory.
Manhattan rebounded from that loss when they travelled to Jersey City Sunday, managing to hold off St. Peter’s 68-57 despite 23 more turnovers, ultimately finishing the weekend 1-1.
The Jaspers now sit at 10-10 overall on the season, 5-3 in the MAAC.
“You can’t have 19 turnovers, you can’t turn the ball over 19 times,” Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello said. “Defensively, we hold them to 40 percent, so we did our job there. You hold a team to 40 percent at home and you shoot 48 percent for the game, you out-rebound them, you should win the game. But if you turn the ball over as much as we did, it’s tough.”
But there was some good for the Jaspers courtesy of Pauly Paulicap. The Jaspers’ 6-foot-8 forward kept Manhattan afloat in the first half scoring 10 of his team-high 17 points and logging two of his six blocks as the Jaspers carved out a narrow 28-27 lead at the break.
But once the second half convened, turnovers — along with the hot shooting of Canisius’ Isaiah Reese — led to Manhattan’s demise.
The Golden Griffs opened the second half with a 15-6 run with Reese contributing a trio of three-pointers as Canisius snatched the lead and built a 42-34 advantage. The Jaspers would close within three points at 48-45 after a layup by Paulicap with 9:27 to play.
But Reese continued his torrid shooting with another pair of long three-balls, helping fuel a 16-7 spurt by the Griffs. When the dust settled, Canisius had a 64-52 cushion and its share of first place in the MAAC was secure.
Reese, who was held scoreless in the first half, finished with 17 points — all five of his field goals coming from three-point range.
“I thought we did a really good job on him in the first half,” Masiello said. “He had to be shooting from five feet behind the NBA line. There’s really no defense in my playbook that I have to defend him. Reese hit three threes that were really momentum killers.”
Following the loss to Canisius, Masiello said he was not looking forward to Manhattan’s trip to St. Peter’s, with the Peacocks being one of the MAAC’s better defensive outfits.
“Mostly I’m not excited about going there on such a quick turnaround,” Masiello said. “But we’ll get back on our horse and ride over to Jersey City.”
It was a bumpy ride at first as the Jaspers committed nine turnovers in the first half and trailed 29-28 at the half. This time, however, the Jaspers were able to survive 14 more second half miscues because of some white-hot, three-point shooting of their own.
The Jaspers sank a dozen three-balls in the game with Rich Williams pacing Manhattan with four treys on six attempts to finish with 14 points. Zavier Turner was 2-for-2 from behind the arc, logging a game-high 20 points along with 10 assists for the Jaspers, while Zane Waterman and Paulicap chipped in with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
The victory over the Peacocks moved the Jaspers into a third-place tie with Niagara in the MAAC. Manhattan was scheduled to visit Niagara on Jan. 24 before facing archrival Iona Jan. 27 at 7 p.m., at the Nassau Coliseum as part of a MAAC tripleheader.