Sunday, March 10, 2013

Manhattan Gets Past Loyola In Rivalry's Final Contest

Defending tournament champion Loyola failed to make it even out of the quarterfinal round of men's MAAC tournament play this year, losing 55-52 to Manhattan in its final game in the conference before its move next season to the Patriot League.

The contest featured hard-nosed, physical play but there was none of the proverbial bad blood on display in what had become a rivalry some were referring to as the league's version of Hatfields-McCoys.

A pregame skirmish prior to the teams' final regular-season contest just six days earlier left two Greyhounds and one Manhattan player suspended for Saturday night's contest. During warm-up drills in that contest, there was some mid-court bumping that escalated into a Loyola player firing a ball that hit Manhattan's Mohamad Koita in the head.

The incident took place before coaches and game officials were on the court. But, when the conference reviewed film of the altercation, Koita and Loyola forwards Julius Brooks and Jordan Latham were given one-game suspensions and missed Saturday's game.

"I don't know how it keeps happening, but the same thing happened last year down there (at Loyola)," Manhattan's junior center Rhamel Brown told the New York Daily News earlier in the week. "I don't know why it keeps happening. That's what happens when two physical teams play. But, I'm proud of my teammates for not letting anyone push us around. We stood our ground."

The Jaspers, the event's No. 6 seed, stood their ground against third-seeded Loyola in Saturday's qaurterfinal-round contest, particularly Brown who had team-high totals of 12 points and 12 rebounds. He was particularly effective during an early second-half run with three inside buckets and an assist that helped the Jaspers run out to a 47-33 lead.

Loyola, though, wasn't finished, and when junior guard Dylan Cormer converted a three-point play, a layup and a free throw, with 2:42 remaining in the contest, Loyola had rallied back to within a point.

But, the Greyhounds missed their final four shots in the contest and Manhattan held on to the victory.

Until Saturday's contest, Loyola had been the only conference team that Manhattan had not beaten in Steve Masiello's two seasons as the Jaspers' head coach.

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