Manhattan didn’t get the win, but it had the play of the game — and possibly the entire ESPN Tipoff Marathon.
Trailing UMass by two with a baseline inbounds play coming, Steve Masiello had time to draw something up as the officials decided to put 0.8 seconds on the clock.
Here’s what happened:
UMass knew Manhattan only had time for, at most, a catch and shoot. With Emmy Andujar inbounding the ball, the sharpshooting Shane Richards and the 6-foot-10 Ashton Pankey were the Minutemen’s biggest threats.
First, notice Tyler Wilson shift to the near corner. For some reason, UMass center Cady Lalanne follows him, leaving one less person to protect the rim. Aside: why was Lalanne guarding Wilson, a point guard who scores all his points at the rim or foul line? They must have been expecting Wilson to screen for Pankey, who was being guarded on the far block by Trey Davis.
Then, Richards, who had already burned UMass with three tightly contested treys, sets a back screen for Rich Williams. He slows down Jabarie Hinds just enough to give Williams a step advantage going down the lane. Richards was the perfect Jasper to set the pick because Derrick Gordon, his man, would never have thought to leave him leaking towards the three-point line.
Gordon also probably thought there was help behind him. No way the lane could be totally devoid of Minutemen.
But Davis followed Pankey, acting as a decoy, just far enough towards the right corner. Sufficient scouting on Manhattan would show Pankey doesn’t really have range beyond 12-15 feet, anyway, and he has a long release. Davis did not recognize that until it was too late. He couldn’t recover, and Williams, with a perfect pass from Andujar, skied for the alley-oop.
Credit UMass for rebounding with an overtime win, but that play was just brilliant.