Albany, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - For the third year in a row, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament features the same two combatants in the title game as top-seeded Iona goes up against third-seeded Manhattan on Monday night at the Times Union Center.
In 2013, the Gaels grabbed the title in this event, their eighth all-time, with a 60-57 win over Manhattan, but last year the Jaspers returned the favor with a three-point win of their own, 71-68, for their fourth championship.
This time around, Manhattan made it to the finals by taking out 11th-seeded Marist on Saturday in a 74-58 decision, and then posting a 65-48 triumph over Saint Peter's last night.
As for the Gaels, their run toward another trip to the title tilt began with a narrow 74-71 outing against Siena two days ago, and continued with a 95-77 thumping of Monmouth on Sunday afternoon.
During the regular season, the Gaels made it a clean sweep of Manhattan by putting up a 70-67 win on the road on Feb. 13, and then repeating the feat two weeks later at home, 79-75.
The 48 points allowed by Manhattan represented one of the strongest defensive stands of the season for the program, limiting the Peacocks to only 3-of-12 shooting behind the 3-point line and forcing as many turnovers (19) as Saint Peter's had field goals. Offensively, Shane Richards dropped in 14 points and pulled down rebounds, while Ashton Pankey and Zane Waterman both tallied 10 points, the latter hitting three of his four 3-point tries as the team finished 8-of-18 on the outside.
Emmy Andujar, who finished with just eight points in the win over the Peacocks, had dropped in 24 points during the quarterfinals versus Marist two days ago. He remains the team's top scorer on the season with 16.5 ppg, accounting for 106 assists as well, although those come against 123 turnovers. Pankey and Richards pitch in with 13.3 and 13.1 ppg, respectively, as the unit generates close to 70 ppg.
After a strong game against Siena on Saturday, A.J. English was again up to the challenge when he took the floor against Monmouth yesterday, finishing with 29 points on a sensational 7-of-10 shooting behind the 3-point line and 11-pof-16 from the floor overall. Isaiah Williams pitched in with 27 points and Schadrac Casimir 16, while Kelvin Amayo filled in his stat line with eight points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. David Laury, who is usually a reliable source for offense, managed only seven points as he made 1-of-8 from the field in the meeting.
For Laury, not only was it a season-low in scoring versus the Hawks, it also marked the first time in 2014-15 that he has been held to single digits. English has now knocked down 13-of-20 beyond the arc in the last two outings, giving defenses fits when they try to catch up to him out on the perimeter.