Friday, March 5, 2010

Manhattan Moves On to Face Siena

In what might be a very strong example of being careful what you wish for ...

The Manhattan men won their first round game with a 94-79 victory over Loyola Friday night in the MAAC tournament, and earn the right to face No. 1 seed and heavy favorite Siena in a semifinal round game Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

Are the Jaspers wary of the contest?

It doesn't seem that way.

"I'm foaming at the mouth (to play Siena)," said Manhattan's junior guard Rico Pickett. "I'm anxious to play them. They beat us twice during the regular season, and it's tough to beat a team three times, so we'll see."

What they'll see is an opponent that finished 17-1 in regular-season league play, establishing a MAAC mark for most conference victories in a season, and own a 35-game home winning streak on the Times Union Center court that hosts this year's MAAC tournament.

If Manhattan can play like it did Friday against Loyola, though ... well, based on that it's easy to see why Pickett is anxious to just play again no matter the opponent.

The 6-foot-3 Pickett had a career-high 33 points (10-of-18 shooting) to lead an energetic Manhattan team to a 19-point lead late in the first half. Loyola closed it to under double digits on numerous second-half occassions, but the winners (11-19 overall this season), was able to hold off the Greyhounds.

Manhattan played an up-tempo pace to produce its single-game high of 94 points this season. Manhattan entered the game averaging 64.7 points per outing, and hadn't scored more than 85 points in an previous game this season.

Loyola fell to a 13-17 overall record while getting a career-high 26 points from 6-10 sophomore center Shane Walker.

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