In early January, Manhattan looked like the class of the MAAC; academic and injury losses brought adversity. But last night, Manhattan fought back from a 10-point deficit against their closest rivals in front of an overflow SRO crowd at their green gym, led by Pawtucket's own Jeff Xavier. The Jaspers closed a home-and-home sweep of Iona, won the regular season title, and will be assured of at least an NIT invite.
Every time Iona tried to make a move down the stretch, Xavier answered. He nailed a three at 7:02 that put a dagger an Iona run, and stole the ball at 4:33 to keep the Gaels from building on a five-point lead. Another steal at 2:33 set up a layup that tied it at 70, then he sank the two freebies at 1:27 that expanded the lead to an unassailable four. Manhattan now gets a week off to prepare for their semifinal matchup in Albany, by virtue of clinching the double-bye that comes with the MAAC's No. 1 seed.
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