The Manhattan student section was plentiful and rowdy on Thursday night in its first home game of the second semester, with the wisecrack of the night going to an obnoxious student, who yelled out to Marist head coach Chuck Martin, "Chuck Chuck Bo Buck Banana Fana You Suck."
Obnoxious students can get annoying, but sometimes they're right. Marist (7-15, 2-9 MAAC) lost for the eighth consecutive time, and Martin's road record in four years with the Red Foxes now stands at a miserable 2-53.
Manhattan (17-7, 10-2) came out of the gate slowly, but it pulled away in the second half and cruised to a 73-51 win. The Jaspers have now won eight straight games, and 14 of their last 17. Not only are they one of the hottest squads in the MAAC, but they have also emerged as one of the hottest teams among all mid-majors.
Marist's Adam Kemp and Mahattan's Rhamel Brown went at it in the post all night long. The MAAC's two best shot blockers combined for seven blocks (three for Kemp, four for Brown), including a couple of stuffs on each other. The dynamic swatters made everything at the rim difficult.
Unfortunately, barring a matchup in the MAAC Tournament, this will be the last time they go head-to-head this year. Fortunately, both are sophomores, so there will still be two more years of battling for the MAAC shot-blocking title.
Aside from Brown, the Manhattan defense remained active and pesky, as usual. The Jaspers forced 21 turnovers and had 13 steals, eight of them by sophomore point guard Michael Alvarado. They converted efficiently off the takeaways with 27 points of turnovers. The Manhattan guards consistently made Marist's ballhandlers look like amateurs with the rock.
Manhattan, which entered the contest at 23rd in the nation in field-goal defense (39 percent) held the Red Foxes to 37.7 percent shooting.
George Beamon continued his quest towards Manhattan's 1,000-point club. The junior posted 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting, but he is still 14 points shy of quadruple digits. With a good night on Saturday against Iona, he will have a spot reserved on the Draddy Gymnasium banners.
Kidani Brutus led all scorers with 16 points off the bench. The senior co-captain shot 7-of-10 from the field, including a pair of pretty, stepback jumpers. For Marist, Isaiah Morton and freshman Chavaugn Lewis each had 11 points.
Although the rout was fun to watch for all Manhattan fans, this was just a warmup. As the final seconds ticked away, fans rose to their feet and started chanting, "Bring on Iona!" The Jaspers will face the Iona Gaels on Saturday night for first place in the MAAC. (The game is already sold out -- sorry to mid-major fans who were looking to make the trip to NYC.)