Recapping the MAAC tournament

Published: Mar 12, 2014 13:29pm EDT
By JLangley4, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Mar 12, 2014 @ 01:29pm EDT


The MAAC tournament kicked off last Thursday, March 6th, with the three first round games between the bottom six teams in the conference. I was at the MAAC tournament the entire weekend, excluding the first two games where Rider squared off against Monmouth and St. Peters faced off against Fairfield. Rider and St.Peters both advanced on to the quarterfinals that day, with St.Peters winning in thrilling fashion with a buzzer-beating three by senior Desi Washington.

I got to the MassMutual Center around ten at night, just in time to watch most of the Marist-Niagara game. This was a match-up of the 6th and 11th seed, with Niagara being the latter of the two. Most believed that Niagara would be one-and-done in the tournament, but that would not be the case. Led by a strong performance by Antoine Mason, the second leading scorer in the nation, the Purple Eagles were able to stave off a strong push by the Red Foxes and move on to the quarterfinals to play Quinnipiac.

The quarterfinals set up a few intriguing match-ups, most notably, Siena and Canisius. Siena was the hottest team in the conference after defeating top teams Manhattan and Quinnipiac in the weeks leading up to the tournament. Siena was the fifth seed, and gave Canisius a battle the entire game until the Golden Griffins pulled away at the end to win 71-65. The Griffs were led by senior Billy Baron with 17 points. What gets lost in the game is the strong play of the Saints. Siena will be a major factor in the conference in the coming years, and that is all thanks to coach Jimmy Patsos, who doesn't get the credit he deserves.

Iona finished off Rider with ease in their contest, as did Quinnipiac in defeating Niagara. Manhattan had quite the battle going with St.Peters for a long time with the teams going into the halftime break tied at 34. The Jaspers proved to be too much, however, and cruised in the second half.

The semifinals contained the top four teams in the conference to the surprise of few. Many, including myself, expected Iona to cruise past Canisius and into the finals. In the first half, it seemed liked that would happen, as the Gaels got open shots and were seemingly not missing from the field. The Gaels led at the half 48-41, and that seemed like enough to get the win. However, the Griffs battled back and tied the game at 70 late in the game. David Laury only had four points in the game, but three of those points were the biggest of the game as he made a three-point play at the end to put the Gaels up 73-70. Down 75-72 with about five seconds left, the Griffs got the ball to Billy Baron, but his shot never had a chance, ending his chance at an NCAA tournament bid, something he talked about getting all season.

In the other semifinals contest, Manhattan made quick work of Quinnipiac, destroying them en route to the championship game. The Bobcats had been struggling towards the end of the season, but given the match-ups on the interior, many had expected a much closer contest between the teams.

The championship round contained the top two teams in the MAAC, just as it should be. Iona was the high-scoring offense while Manhattan was the tough, gritty team with intense defense. In the end, defense won, as Manhattan shut the Gaels down to just 68 points, winning 71-68. David Laury had a chance to tie the game at the end with a three, but that is obviously not his specialty, and the shot did not fall. Steve Masiello, the coach for Manhattan, is a Rick Pitino disciple, and he coaches like him. Masiello is a fiery coach who has the admiration of his players. At just the age of 36, Masiello will be in line for some major coaching jobs in the the near future.

The Manhattan Jaspers will have to wait a week to see where they are playing come tournament time, but by all accounts, the best team won this tournament. The team that started the season as the preseason favorite took home the crown, and will represent the MAAC in the NCAA tournament.


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