by Dan Gardella


Bridgeport – Following back-to-back losses against Monmouth and Rider in which they allowed 75+ points in each game, defense needed to be a point of emphasis for the Manhattan College Jaspers.


The last two, three days haven’t been fun around the Bronx. Just with our defensive intensity coming off the Monmouth and Rider game. So we just got back to what we do.” Said Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello.


Masiello’s team responded in a big way by holding Fairfield to 33% in the second half and escaped Connecticut with a 59-53 victory over the Stags in front of 1,214 fans on Thursday night.


The game was a back and forth affair throughout the contest. A first half that featured seven lead changes ended with a 31-31 score heading into the halftime break.


Fairfield managed to shoot 54% in the first half along with knocking down six three pointers. Masiello however, knew it wouldn’t be as easy in the second half.


“They made six challenged threes in the first half. So I knew we could get to their legs with our style. I said keep defending, keep defending. “said Masiello.


Although Fairfield was able to stick around, it was turnovers that would eventually be their achilles heel.


“I think turnovers, 16 of them hurt us just as much as anything because I think a few of those could be shots, scores and then it’s a completely different look down the stretch.” Said Fairfield head coach Sydney Johnson.


The Stags got contributions up and down their roster as eight players registered double digit minutes.


“We use practice to gauge guys’ readiness and try to bring them along. We have some veteran guys who know what they’re doing. But the younger guys have been good understudies, they’ve used practice and game film and coaching to improve and contribute, and that’s what you see out of Taj (Benning), Aidas (Kavaliauskas) and some of the younger guys as well.” Said Johnson in his post-game press conference.


The Jaspers Pauly Paulicap had 14 points to lead the Jaspers. Rich Williams had 10 points as Manhattan (8-9, 3-2 MAAC) returns to the Bronx to take on Siena Saturday evening.


Fairfield (6-10, 1-4 MAAC) take a trip to Poughkeepsie, New York to face Marist on Saturday evening.