Just when it looked like Canisius and Iona were about to make the MAAC a two team race at the top of the conference standings, Manhattan delivered a statement win in Buffalo tonight as they beat Canisius, 84-73.
The Jaspers entered the game reeling having lost three of their last five games, dropping them to 8-4 in the MAAC — two games behind both Canisius and Iona. Their leading scorer and top player, George Beamon, had been struggling to relocate his scoring groove that he was in prior to injuring his shoulder and missing three games. Beamon was averaging just 13 points since his return against Rider on January 24th.
Tonight in Buffalo, however, the George Beamon of old emerged, and Manhattan looked like the team that began the season 13-3. Beamon out-shined Canisius’ star Billy Baron, pouring in 27 points on 9-22 FG, 5-9 3PT.
It was clear from the outset Baron was going to have to work for his points. The Jaspers began the game on a 15-1 run, and Baron didn’t take his first shot until the 9:45 mark of the opening half. Tonight, the MAAC’s top defensive team kept one of the best offensive teams at bay.
While the Golden Griffins made a run, cutting it to 32-30 with 5:15 remaining in the opening half as Baron began to heat up, they were never able to take the lead. Manhattan extended the advantage to 47-35 at halftime, and fended off every run Canisius made in the second half.
Baron, who is one of the best and most efficient offensive players in the country, had to work for every one of his 22 points — credit RaShawn Stores for making life difficult for Baron all night.
Manhattan still trails their rival Iona by two games in the MAAC, but with Beamon looking like he is back at full-strength and the Jaspers hosting the Gaels later in the season, one would be foolish to count Steve Masiello’s group out in the race for the regular season MAAC title.