The Marist men’s basketball team suffered a 72-66 road loss against the Manhattan Jaspers on Sunday afternoon. The Red Foxes held an early lead against the Jaspers, but were unable to overcome a large second-half deficit. Marist now owns a 3-8 record in conference play on the season, 11th in the MAAC.
Marist got off to an excellent start against the Jaspers, scoring the first seven points of the contest. Considering the way things went against Quinnipiac on Friday night, that was exactly what head coach John Dunne was looking for.
Manhattan responded with a dominant run of their own to get back into the game, as the home team trailed 13-12 going into the U12 media timeout.
For the rest of the first half, neither team was able to gain a significant lead. While Manhattan held the advantage for a larger period of the half, Marist was always within a few possessions of the Jaspers.
With under two minutes remaining in the first half, Manhattan gained their largest lead at 34-28 following a made layup from Perez. Ituka finished the half on a 4-0 run of his own, cutting the deficit to just two going into the break. Perez led all scorers with 15 points at the half.
Manhattan was the team that got off to a quicker start following halftime. The Jaspers began the second half on a 17-11 run, giving the home team a 51-43 lead with a little more than 15 minutes left in the game.
Whenever it seemed like Marist was going to go on a run, Manhattan would put the ball in the hands of Jose Perez. The University of Marquette transfer delivered, time and time again, as the Jaspers continued to maintain control.
About midway through the second half, the momentum began to switch in favor of the Red Foxes. Marist was able to combine getting stops on the defensive end with creating good looks of their own. An 8-0 run, led by four points from Ricardo Wright, cut the deficit to just one with 06:49 remaining.
Marist would be given an opportunity to regain the lead for the first time since the opening minutes of the first half. The team was unable to take advantage of that, as Manhattan responded when they needed to most. An 8-0 run, finished off by a layup from Perez, gave the Jaspers a 68-59 lead with under four minutes left.
Over the next few minutes, Jao Ituka did everything he could to get Marist within striking distance. Six straight points for the guard made it a two-possession game with 01:39 remaining. The Red Foxes were unable to get any closer, as Perez hit the dagger with 12 seconds remaining to give the Jaspers a six-point victory.
Perez, who came into this contest averaging 17.1 points per game, which ranked second in the MAAC, had a fantastic performance against the Red Foxes. The 6-foot-5 forward had a game-high 29 points on 11-for-20 shooting from the field and three-for-seven shooting from three. Perez also contributed with seven assists and four rebounds in 39 minutes.
Ant Nelson proved to be a key contributor for the Jaspers as well. The senior guard had 16 points on six-for-14 shooting from the field and two-for-six shooting from beyond the arc. This is the eighth time Nelson has scored in double figures this season.
From a Marist perspective, Ituka was the notable player from an offensive perspective against the Jaspers. The 6-foot-1 guard had a team-high 21 points on nine-for-11 shooting from the field with five rebounds and three assists.
Wright was another player for Marist who had a quality performance against Manhattan. The 6-foot-4 sophomore had 19 points on seven-for-15 shooting from the field and three-for-five shooting from three. The guard also had seven rebounds, four assists and three steals in 29 minutes.
Marist returns to play on Feb. 6 at 2 p.m., when they face the Saint Peter’s Peacocks at the Yanitelli Center in Jersey City, N.J. The Peacocks earned a 69-62 road victory when these teams last faced off on Jan. 26, 2022.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez
Photo from Luke Sassa