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Manhattan wins Battle of the Bronx, eyes mid-season turnaround

Manhattan beat Fordham Saturday night at Draddy Gymnasium in the 109th annual “Battle of the Bronx.”

With the victory, the Jaspers now lead the all-time series 57-52. This most recent win was pivotal for Manhattan, as it entered the game on a four game losing skid, and winless thus far in December.

The Jaspers looked jittery early, and struggled on both ends for much of the first half, shooting 36 percent and turning the ball over 16 times. They came out of the intermission laser-focused. Manhattan outscored Fordham by 11 in part by taking much better care of the ball (9 second half turnovers).

The game was an emotional one.

Midway through the second half, Steve Masiello and Jeff Neubauer got into a heated verbal exchange. Masiello had to be restrained by his players, while Neubauer ripped his tie off in frustration. The showdown resulted in a double technical, one for each bench, and the student section erupted in chants of “Masiello.”

In a nod to the crowd’s passion, Masiello said that Manhattan has the best crowd in New York.

“This place gets rocking, it’s the real deal… We’re passionate. We’re proud… Tonight was a great college basketball atmosphere anywhere- I don’t care where it was,” he said after the game.

And so, if you are a Manhattan College fan, there’s no reason to panic.

A 2-7 start to the season is not ideal, but history has shown that the Jaspers can- and have- rebounded from starts like this. In fact, Jasper fans need not look any further than the 2014-15 season.

Manhattan started the season 2-7, but then went on to win 14 of its remaining 24 games, and ended the season 19-14. The Jaspers won the MAAC tournament champions and went on to play in the NCAA tournament.

This current Manhattan team may still be finding itself.

Before the year, Rich Williams was widely thought of as the team’s leader. With him sidelined by a knee injury, several other Jaspers have stepped up. Zavier Turner, who has scored in double figures in every game but two, scored all 15 of his points in the first half. Zane Waterman had zero points off 0-of-2 shooting in the first half, but poured in 10 second half points on 3-of-6 shooting, including 2-of-4 from downtown.

Turner noted that collaboration is a key part of the program.

“Earlier we were saying in the huddle, we really have a brotherhood... It’s not just a team… We have a brand and we’re protecting that brand. And this right here?” Turner said, gesturing to the plaque he was awarded minutes earlier postgame for the John ‘Doc’ Johnson MVP award, “This don’t belong to me. This belong to them. This belongs to Coach. I’m playing for the next person, I’m playing for them.”

Manhattan returns to action on Dec. 17 against Florida State. Fordham will travel to New Jersey on Dec. 18 to seek its own first December win against Rutgers.