Jasper Juggernaut

OT win improves Jaspers’ tournament hopes

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In four seasons at Manhattan College, George Beamon, Rhamel Brown and Michael Alvarado have transformed the Jaspers from a conference also-ran to a team on the brink of being the MAAC’s representative in the NCAA tournament.

The seniors’ final two home games this past weekend were arguably their finest moments on their home court in Draddy Gymnasium.

Manhattan (22-7, 15-5) beat conference-leader Iona, 80-77 in overtime in front of a sellout crowd of 2,520 and a national TV audience on Friday, and then beat Canisius, 68-63, on Sunday. 

The latter win, coupled with Quinnipiac’s loss the same day, earned the Jaspers the No. 2 seed in this weekend’s MAAC tournament at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass. They will play the winner of No. 7 Saint Peter’s and No. 10 Fairfield at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday in the quarterfinals. The semifinals are Sunday night, and Monday night’s final will be televised on ESPN2.

Three more wins and Manhattan will punch its first ticket to the NCAA tournament since back-to-back appearances in 2003 and 2004. The Jaspers have only participated in March Madness six times before.

“I just want to say thank you to the greatest senior class I have ever been associated with! George, Mike and Rhamel simply, you are the best,” head coach Steve Masiello tweeted Sunday night. Masiello, a White Plains native, won a national championship as a player at Kentucky in 1998 and was a Manhattan assistant on their latest NCAA tournament teams.

The 36-year-old took over the floundering program three seasons ago, as Manhattan won only six games when Beamon, Brown and Alvarado were freshmen. Since then, the Jaspers have won 57 games, including the 11th and 12th 20-win seasons in school history. Beamon, Brown and Alvarado are the first 1,000 points-per-player Jasper trio from the same class.

“I’m happy to be a part of this,” said Beamon, the conference’s third-leading scorer at 19.7 points per game who was named first-team all-conference on Monday. “I’m glad I chose Manhattan.”

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