2011 MAAC Tournament Opening Round: Siena Survives Upset Bid from Manhattan

Jesse KramerCorrespondent IMarch 5, 2011

Coming into the MAAC tournament, Siena fans knew that chances for winning a fourth straight MAAC title were slim. The Saints, who have been in the NCAA Tournament as MAAC champions the last three years, went 8-10 in the MAAC this year and are the No. 7 in the tournament.

However, they were still hopeful for at least one win in the MAAC tournament.

On Friday night, the MAAC tournament kicked No. 8 Niagara playing No. 9 Marist. Marist jumped out to an early lead and took down the favored Purple Eagles for the Red Foxes first MAAC Tournament win since 2009.

Following the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game came No. 7 Siena and No. 10 Manhattan. The Jaspers had hopes since they had already beaten Siena once during the regular season, but everybody knew the Saints were the more talented team with MAAC Player of the Year Ryan Rossiter.

The game was a game of runs and it was close throughout.

Manhattan struck first with an early 19-11 lead. The Jaspers came out lead by junior Kidani Brutus, who scored nine of the first 11 Jasper points. 

The Saints came right back to keep close with the underdog Jaspers, and finally an anticipated 14-1 run by Siena gave the Saints a 40-33 halftime lead over the Jaspers.

The Jaspers made a move about midway through the second half, cutting the lead until they finally took the lead back with 9:16 remaining. George Beamon's jumper with 7:05 left in the game gave the Jaspers a 55-52 advantage.

But just as Siena had done all game, it put together a good run and held a 63-61 lead in the final seconds of regulation.

With possession in the hands of the Jaspers, Michael Alvarado, who became nationally famous for making a 60-foot shot to beat Marist back in January, knocked down a shot from the left elbow to send the game into an extra session.

But in overtime, Siena came out as the stronger offensive team.

The Jaspers were outscored 5-3 in the final five minutes and made no field goals. Their three overtime points came on 3-for-4 shooting from the foul line.

The Jaspers held what would be the final lead of the year with 2:17 left after a pair of Beamon free throws put the Jaspers on top by a score of 66-65.

And after Manhattan got the ball back with a chance to extend the lead, Alvarado overthrew freshman Rhamel Brown and the pass went out of bounds off Manhattan.

Siena capitalized off the turnover as Owen Wignot, who scored all five overtime points for Siena, drained a three-pointer.

Manhattan made one last defensive stand in the final minute to get the ball back with a chance to tie or win the game, but the Jaspers failed to convert.

The Jaspers offense seemed like a mess and the ball ended up in the hands of Beamon, a 16 percent three-point shooter, for a last-second three-point shot. The shot fell short and the buzzer sounded.

So, once again, head coach Barry Rohrssen, who should be fired after yet another losing season, failed to come up with a play that would give the Jaspers a good look at the basket, and the result was a Manhattan loss.

Clarence Jackson led all scorers with 24 points on 9-for-20 shooting. The senior made six three-pointers.

MAAC Player of the Year Ryan Rossiter had yet another double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds.

For Manhattan, five players scored in double-digits.

Brutus led the Jaspers with 16 points. The stocky junior also corralled seven rebounds.

Manhattan's leading scorer Beamon scored 14 points and also had seven rebounds and three steals.

Demetrius Jemison and Rhamel Brown each had 13 points. Jemison recorded his third double-double as a Jasper with the addition of 10 rebounds. Brown had a strong game with his points coming on 6-for-7 shooting from the field.

Lastly, freshman Mike Alvarado scored 10 points. The freshman struggled in the first half, but his second half additions were mainly what kept the Jaspers in the game down to the final buzzer.

With the win, Siena advances to the quarterfinals to play No. 2 Iona on Saturday night.


Follow Jesse Kramer on Twitter @Jesse_Kramer for more college basketball news and information.