Albany, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Ashton Pankey finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds as third-seeded Manhattan clinched an NCAA Tournament bid with a 79-69 win over familiar foe Iona in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship game on Monday.
The two teams met in the championship game for the third time in a row and it was the Jaspers (19-13) who won for the second straight season.
Emmy Andujar netted 18 points with 11 boards and four assists and Donovan Kates and Shane Richards scored 13 and 11, respectively, for Manhattan in the win.
David Laury had a game-high 24 points with 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks, while Kelvin Amayo supplied 11 with 10 boards for the top-seeded Gaels (26-8), who were conference champions in 2013.
It was a tight game until a Kates trey and a pair of Pankey free throws gave the Jaspers a 69-63 advantage with just under five minutes remaining.
Pankey made a crucial layup for a nine-point lead with 3:03 to go and his pair of free throws with 23 seconds left sealed the win.
After a close start to the game, Manhattan used a 7-0 run to take a 32-22 lead with under six minutes left in the first half. Andujar had four points and Rashawn Stores hit a trey during the burst.
A.J. English scored eight unanswered points with under two minutes left for the Gaels, including consecutive 3s, to cut the deficit to 39-37 at halftime.
Laury provided six points as Iona used a 10-2 run to take a narrow 50-49 lead with 12:15 to play.
The last three MAAC title games have been decided by 16 total points ... The Gaels swept the Jaspers in the regular season with a 70-67 win on the road on Feb. 13 and a 79-75 decision on Feb. 27 ... Manhattan outrebounded Iona 41-34 and shot 43.3 percent from the field.