Emmy Andujar had a career night, scoring 28 points, grabbing six rebounds, dishing out three assists and coming away with three steals in Manhattan’s big MAAC 80-77 overtime win against regular season champion Iona on Friday night.
Andujar went coast-to-coast at the end of regulation, but was denied by the rim as the Jaspers and Gaels geared up for five more minutes in front of a raucous Draddy Gymnasium crowd.
He came up big in overtime, using a hesitation move to glide along the baseline, putting Manhattan up 80-75 with 24 seconds remaining as Iona elected to play defense instead of fouling. A.J. English got it to a one-possession game moments later. After George Beamon’s missed free throw opened the door for a game-tying three, English came up short. Rhamel Brown missed both free throws, but time expired on the second miss.
Last season, Manhattan and Iona met in Springfield in the MAAC tournament title game, as the Nos. 6 and 4 seeds, respectively. This year, they are the top two teams in the league followed by newcomer Quinnipiac trailing regular season champion Iona by two games.
The MAAC got two bids in the 2012 NCAA Tournament with Loyola (Md.) getting the automatic bid while Iona was slotted as a No. 13 seed in First Four game against BYU.
Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello, who was one win away from the NCAA tournament last season, believes his league deserves multiple bids in 2014.
“This is not a one-bid league,” he said in the post game press conference. “A seventh-place team in a BCS conference is better than these three? I don’t buy it.
“These four teams at the top of the MAAC, you put them in a 13/4 game, that four seed is in trouble,” he continued.
Iona’s RPI is 73. Manhattan’s is 92. Kenpom has the Gaels rated 74 while the Jaspers are ahead of them by a spot in those rankings. It remains to be seen as to whether or not two teams get into the Big Dance. But one thing is certain: if Friday night was an indication of what next week’s conference tournament will look like, the MassMutual Center will be the site to several great games leading up to Selection Sunday.