Manhattan vs. Iona: 10 best games of last 10 years

A.J. English guarded by Rashawn Stores in a game last season. Courtesy Photo / ICGaels.com

Manhattan and Iona are separated by 9.1 miles, a 17-minute drive from one gym to the other. They have one of the best rivalries in college basketball.

As the Gaels take a 46-39 all-time advantage into this year’s first meeting with the Jaspers, let’s take a look at the 10 best games Iona and Manhattan have played over the last 10 years.

Games were evaluated based on stakes, finishes and how good both teams were.

10. Thriller at the Mecca

Date: Jan. 30, 2008

Score: Iona 62, Manhattan 60

Location: Madison Square Garden

The Gaels did basically everything they could do to blow a 13-point lead in the last six minutes, going ice cold from the field. Their only two points in that stretch came on a De’Shaune Griffin jumper with 1:53 left. Their three possessions after that, leading to the final horn: turnover, turnover, missed front end. Manhattan had two chances to tie the game on the final possession, but Rashad Green’s last-second jumper missed.

9. Give the ball to Rico

Date: Jan. 22, 2010

Score: Iona 56, Manhattan 53

Location: Draddy Gym

Iona was on its way up, in the last year of the Kevin Willard era, and Manhattan was en route to yet another sub-.500 year under Barry Rohrssen. Nonetheless, this one came down to the wire, with Manhattan losing by way of a classic Rohrssen coaching move: give the ball to Rico.

Rico, of course, was Alabama/Miami Dade CC transfer Rico Pickett, an enigmatic, ball-stopping talent. As he did in so many late-game scenarios that one season with Pickett, Rohrssen handed the ball to his star and basically said, “Do something.” It rarely worked.

This time, Jermel Jenkins stripped Pickett with just a few seconds left, and Kyle Smyth sank a pair of free throws for the final margin.

8. The timeout

Date: Jan. 15, 2005

Score: Iona 69, Manhattan 67

Location: Draddy Gym

Peter Mulligan did so much right during his time at Manhattan, but he made a Chris Webber-like gaffe in this one, calling for timeout with 36 seconds left and the Jaspers having none available.

Steve Burtt converted the two free throws to break a tie at 67, and the Jaspers missed three 3-pointers in the last 20 seconds.

Iona overcame a 13-point deficit in the last 8:21.

7. The Jenkins winner

Date: Feb. 4, 2005

Score: Iona 55, Manhattan 53

Location: Mulcahy Center

Greg Jenkins was the last-second hero, as Iona swept its 2005 series with Manhattan. After Jeff Xavier tied the game at 53 with 35 seconds left, the Gaels had an opportunity to hold for the last shot. Steve Burtt missed a layup, but Jenkins corralled it and laid it in with 0.4 seconds left.

The winner was a shining moment in Jenkins’ nice senior year for the Gaels.

This stands as Iona’s only buzzer-beating win over Manhattan in the last 10 years.

6. Emmy saves the day, Pt. 3

Date: Feb. 28, 2014

Score: Manhattan 80, Iona 77 OT

Location: Draddy Gym

The Gaels had locked up the MAAC regular season title a night earlier, with Quinnipiac’s loss to Siena, but they showed no signs of complacency. Less than eight minutes after tip, Iona had a 20-13 lead and looked like it would shoot the Jaspers down to the No. 4 seed for the MAAC tournament.

Then Manhattan began to pick apart Iona’s defense, scoring 32 points in the last 12 minutes to take a 45-35 lead into the break. But this wouldn’t have been a Manhattan-Iona game if the Gaels rolled over. Tre Bowman had a chance to break a tie on a layup with nine seconds left in regulation, but Emmy Andujar swatted it, corralled it and then missed his tough potential winner at the horn.

Andujar scored five of Manhattan’s nine points in the extra period, as the Jaspers held on for the win.

5. Emmy saves the day, Pt. 2

Date: Feb. 15, 2013

Score: Manhattan 74, Iona 73 2OT

Location: Draddy Gym

Manhattan had hit its groove two weeks earlier, finally adjusting to life without George Beamon — who redshirted the season with an ankle injury — and came in hoping to avenge a recent loss to the Gaels. It nearly didn’t happen.

The Jaspers held Iona scoreless for the last 3:22 of regulation, and Andujar forced overtime with a layup with 42 seconds left.

At the end of the second overtime, Mike Alvarado missed a free throw that would have tied the game at 73 with 11 seconds left. Rhamel Brown gathered the offensive board, his 17th rebound of the night, and the Jaspers worked the ball to Andujar, who drove left and finished the winner with four seconds remaining.

4. Emmy saves the day, Pt. 1

Date: Jan. 12, 2012

Score: Manhattan 75, Iona 72

Location: Hynes Athletics Center

Steve Masiello’s head coaching debut in the rivalry included a 17-point comeback and a wild, buzzer-beating shot.

The Jaspers trailed an Iona team that would eventually earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament 65-48 with 7:58 remaining. Then Manhattan caught fire, and six minutes later, an Alvarado layup tied the game at 69.

Brown, of all people, buried two free throws with eight seconds left to give Manhattan a 72-70 lead, but Momo Jones raced up court and answered. His falling jumper in the lane tied the game with a shade more than three seconds on the clock.

The Jaspers got the ball to halfcourt and called timeout with 1.3 seconds left, allowing Masiello to design a play from the left side that would get Brown the ball near the rim. With Taaj Ridley leaping and waving his arms frantically, Alvarado, the inbounder, couldn’t get the ball to Brown. George Beamon, the next option, couldn’t free himself as he curled around the left wing. Kidani Brutus ran around aimlessly near halfcourt to clear room in the middle. That left Andujar as the only option.

The then-freshman caught Alvarado’s inbounds pass on the right wing with his back to the basket. In one motion, he turned, rose and banked in the winner as the horn sounded.

3. An all-time regular-season finale

Date: Feb. 26, 2006

Score: Manhattan 78, Iona 74

Location: Draddy Gym

For a while, this game stood as the greatest bout between Manhattan and Iona, a winner-take-all clash for the regular-season title and the all-important double-bye in the MAAC tournament.

It included a brawl. It featured two comebacks. After the Jaspers completed the latter one and sealed the win, an Iona student somehow managed to rip off a piece of the Draddy bleachers, chucking it in disgust as Manhattan fans rushed the floor.

Steve Burtt blew kisses to the crowd after his transition 3-pointer with 6:05 left gave Iona a 67-60 lead, but Jason Wingate led Manhattan on an 18-7 run to close the game. Manhattan’s lefty point guard started the spurt with a 3-pointer, gave the Jaspers a 72-70 lead with a layup and sank all four of his free throws in the final 20 seconds to seal the victory.

Iona got the last laugh, though, as Keekee Clark and Saint Peter’s upset the Jaspers in the semis before falling to the Gaels in the championship.

2. A first for everything

Date: March 11, 2013

Score: Iona 60, Manhattan 57

Location: MassMutual Center (Springfield, Mass.)

Iona put an end to Manhattan’s timely hot streak — the Jaspers had won eight of 10 entering the first MAAC championship meeting between the two rivals — but it wasn’t easy, as Masiello’s bunch kept the pace and score in their favor.

The Gaels hadn’t been held to an output lower than 62 all year. The eighth-fastest-paced team in the nation at 71.1 possessions per game, they had played 65 or fewer possessions just three times. Manhattan’s high-pressure defense made them uncomfortable, resulting in a 60-possession game, the slowest 40 minutes Iona had played all year.

And the Jaspers were also doing just enough offensively. With 14:52 remaining, they led 35-30, thanks to a Shane Richards 3-pointer.

But then Iona found an offensive rhythm. The Gaels went on a 17-2 run over the next six-plus minutes, and Manhattan wouldn’t cut the gap to four until Brown hit two free throws with 1:24 left. Tre Bowman scored 14 points in the last 14 minutes, and David Laury’s emphatic slam with six seconds left sealed Iona’s first championship since 2006.

This one ranks below the 2014 championship because the slim final margin was aided by an Iona technical, after players prematurely left the bench in celebration when another Richards 3-pointer fell through with one-tenth of a second remaining.

1. Manhattan’s senior sendoff

Date: March 10, 2014

Score: Manhattan 71, Iona 68

Location: MassMutual Center

With a talented senior class, the Jaspers hadn’t had as good of a chance of making the NCAA tournament since 2006, when they lost to Saint Peter’s in the MAAC semifinals. Of course Iona stood in the way. Again.

And, again, Iona used a run to take control after Manhattan scored its 35th point. This time, however, the Jaspers would squelch the spurt earlier, ending the 11-0 spurt and pulling within 38-37 on a Brown layup with 15:35 remaining.

Manhattan opened a 64-54 lead with 6:19 left, but Iona came back and cut the gap to two with 26 seconds left and again nine seconds later. After Donovan Kates went 1-for-2 at the stripe to give Manhattan a 71-68 lead, Iona had one more chance. The Jaspers took away Sean Armand and A.J. English, leaving Laury wide open from the right wing. His 3-point bid hit the backboard and then the rim, but it bounced off and sent Manhattan dancing for the first time since 2004.

For live updates from tonight’s game, follow Ari Kramer on Twitter.