RIVERDALE, N.Y. – The Manhattan men’s basketball team could not dig itself out of a 24-point deficit as the Jaspers dropped an 88-77 decision to Rider (4-11, 1-2 MAAC) on Monday at Draddy Gymnasium. Jaspers’ senior guard Kidani Brutus (Bronx, N.Y./Wings Academy/Carl Albert State) scored a team-high 19 points with five 3-pointers as Manhattan (9-6, 2-1 MAAC) endured its first conference loss of the season.
Rider’s hot shooting exposed the Jaspers’ defense that entered the game leading the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in field goal defense which held opponents to 39.6% on the season. The Broncs torched the net with a 58% (29-50) field goal mark on Monday, which included knocking down 12 backbreaking 3-point field goals at a 54.5% (12-22) rate. Broncs’ senior guard Novar Gadson led the effort with a game-high 21 points on 6-for-9 shooting with two 3-pointers. Rider also received a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) from senior forward Brandon Penn.
The Jaspers could not recover from the Broncs 52-point first half, almost equaling the 56.7 scoring average Manhattan limited its last seven opponents to. It also tied the most points Manhattan allowed in the first half this season as Rider hit 60.7% (17-28) of its shots and converted 12-of-14 (85.7%) of its free-throw attempts.
Manhattan trailed 52-35 at halftime with freshman forward Emmy Andujar (Bronx, N.Y./Rice) and sophomore forward Rhamel Brown (Brooklyn, N.Y./Transit Tech) combining for nearly half of the Jaspers points. Andujar scored all 10 of his points in the first half and Brown posted seven of his 11 points. Brown finished shooting 5-for-6 from the field and he grabbed four rebounds.
Brutus led the Manhattan comeback charge in the second half, but the Jaspers just ran out of time. Brutus scored 14 of his 19 points in the final 20 minutes as he sank 4-of-6 3-point attempts. The Jaspers withered the deficit down to only seven points with a 12-4 run over a five minute span that was capped by senior guard Liam McCabe-Moran’s (New Rochelle, N.Y./Rye/Harcum College) 3-pointer that made it an 84-77 contest with 1:30 remaining.
After a big defensive stop, Andujar could not convert a lay up to continue the Jaspers surge on Manhattan’s next trip down court with 51 seconds to play. Rider knocked down all four of its free-throws in the final 33 seconds to hold off the Jaspers.
The Broncs hit 18-of-21 (85.7%) free-throws in the contest and outrebounded Manhattan 37-30. Gadson shot a perfect 7-for-7 at the line. Broncs’ sophomore guards Daniel Stewart contributed 15 points and nine rebounds and Anthony Myles added 10 points.
Jaspers’ junior guard George Beamon (Roslyn, N.Y./Roslyn) scored 13 points and pulled down five rebounds. Freshman guard Donovan Kates (Hopkinsville, Ky./Christian County) scored nine points off the Manhattan bench.
Manhattan returns to action on Thursday when the Jaspers travel to Baltimore to square off with Loyola. Tip off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.