Today wasn't a good day for the back-to-back MAAC champs.
Former four-star recruit Jermaine Lawrence withdrew from classes, Manhattan confirmed this morning. This evening star point-guard RaShawn Stores was a late scratch from the game due to injury. Add those two pieces of bad news to what the Jaspers already knew, that Calvin Crawford would miss the game with a hand injury.
Saint Mary's showed no pity on the visitors. Without the sure-handed Stores at point guard the Gaels pounced, turning 16 Manhattan turnovers into 28 points.
Randy Bennett once again has an impressive offense at his disposal. The Gaels assisted on 24 of their 40 field goals tonight. 30 points came from three and 36 inside the paint. Five Gaels scored in double figures led by Kyle Clark with 16.
As was the case in their opener against San Francisco State, Saint Mary's started slow. The Jaspers' zone kept the Gaels from exploiting their size advantage in the paint and a crew of whistle-happy refs — early season point of emphasis rules led to 51 fouls called tonight, including three straight on Manhattan during the first possession — kept either team from really getting into the flow of the game.
Saint Mary's tried to shoot over the zone but the threes just wouldn't fall. It was the opposite for Manhattan, as the Jaspers had to settle for jumpers.
With the Gaels not getting shots to fall the Jaspers were able to hold a small lead for much of the early going. But once they started falling, they didn't stop. Emmett Naar (15 points, seven assists) hit a three at the 12:12 mark to break a tie and the Gaels never looked back. Five minutes later, the Gaels held a double-digit lead.
During that stretch the Jaspers, other than Rich Williams, went cold.
Shane Richards, who led all scorers with 23 points, banked in a three at the buzzer to make it a ten point game.
Coming out of the half it was once again Williams, whose first possession lay-up cut a previously 18 point lead to single digits. Ignore that first possession, though, because the Gaels owned the second half.
Saint Mary's outscored Manhattan 25-7 over the first ten minutes of the second half with near perfect execution. Of those 25 points all came either in the paint, where the Gaels were much larger than the Jaspers, from beyond the arc or from the free throw line, adding to the foul trouble Manhattan was already experiencing.
Shane Richards scored only six of his 23 points in the second half. He was hounded on defense by Boston College transfer Joe Rahon.
The lead hit 28 points, and hovered in the high-twenties until the final 90 seconds, when it was extended to a game high 30, 89-59.
Only one thing went wrong for the Gaels as they went on that blow-out run happened on defense with 7:32 to play. Junior forward Dane Pineau (13 points, nine rebounds) banged his knee and had to come out. He didn't return, but was seen riding a stationary bike later in the game.
Manhattan falls to 0-1 on the season, and now returns to New York to face Bucknell.
Saint Mary's moves to 2-0 and awaits a visit from Stanford on Sunday.