Tieff and I made the drive up to Riverdale to see Hofstra play Manhattan. We got up there late and found out that the parking lots were full, and that we had to find a parking spot somewhere on a side street. It felt like we were looking for a spot forever and when we finally found one, it seemed like we walked half of Riverdale in the dark to get to the Draddy Gymnasium on the campus of Manhattan College.
Having learned from that experience, I left shortly before 5:15 to make the trek up there again for the 7:00 PM start time. This time, it was a solo trip since Tieff was suffering from a bad cold. I made it up to Riverdale in 45 minutes, and even though I got slightly lost (and that was even with my GPS), I made it to the entrance to Manhattan College a little after 6:00 PM.
When I asked the guard if there was a lot I can park in, I was dreading the response. The guard simply pointed to the first lot to the right of the entrance and said, "You can park there." It was a small lot for maybe 40 cars, but there was maybe a total of five when my car made it six. It made sense because Manhattan was probably on holiday break and the Jaspers were also struggling at 2-8. However, apparently I was fortunate to get there early. That's because Mr and Mrs. Beach, aka Defiantly Dutch and the First Lady of Defiantly Dutch, came around game time and they told me of their parking horror. Needless to say I wasn't surprised and I told them of our tale of woe from two years ago.
As you can see by the photo, for basketball games, the gymnasium is cut in half. The first half is the open entrance where they put up a make shift concessions stand. Behind that is the row of seats with the seat backs for season ticket holders or premium seating for the basketball court. The rest of the seating for the basketball court is bleacher seating.
During warmups, half of the sound system's speakers in the old gymnasium temporarily blew out which left the other half which was coming from the corner on the right to me. It was kind of like listening to headphones with the headphones not plugged all the way in to the jack. Though they fixed the problem shortly before game time, the speaker blow out was a sign of things to come Saturday night for the Jaspers.
Manhattan's last claim to postseason fame was the 2006 NIT, where the Jaspers went to Maryland and upset the Terrapins before losing in the second round to Old Dominion. Shortly thereafter, coach Bobby Gonzalez, who wore out his welcome at Manhattan with his fiery and often too combative personality, headed for Seton Hall. He was fired there after a few seasons, basically in an epic meltdown of monumental proportions. Meanwhile the Jaspers have struggled with losing records in three of their last four seasons. And with their record of 2-8 going into the game vs Hofstra, it sure looks like it's going to be four of their last five seasons.
And it's ironic that someone Saturday night was also going to be a member of a 2000 point plus club. Charles Jenkins was five points away from being a select member of Hofstra's 2000 point group. And in attendance was another member of that Hofstra group, Speedy Claxton, who recently retired from the NBA and is now a scout for the Golden State Warriors.
The first half was relatively close for the first ten minutes. Recent Alabama transfer Demetrius Jemison kept his Jaspers close by scoring seven of his team's first twelve points. A George Beamon layup would cut the Hofstra lead to one, 15-14 with 10:47 left.
But those were the only points that Jenkins scored in the first half. However, the Pride first half offense didn't need Jenkins. Brad Kelleher was inserted into the game early on and he made a definite impression in only his second game ever for the Pride. As I noted earlier, the Jaspers played a zone for a good part of the game. And Outback Brad made them pay by nailing four three pointers in the first half and scored 14 points overall. His fourth three pointer of the first half gave Hofstra their largest lead of the half 39-23.
But Kelleher was not alone in the first half scoring festivities for the Pride. A small group of Lions Den fans made the trip for the game and ended up sitting behind the Hofstra basket in the first half. And they chanted "We want Moore!" every time that junior guard Mike Moore scored from Hofstra. And he scored often in the first half with 12 first half points. Thanks to Moore and Kelleher, the score was 42-29 Hofstra at the half. The Pride shot 53.6 percent in the first half which included 7 of 10 from beyond the arc.
But early on in the second half, it seemed the basketball gods weren't paying attention to the "Beach-Moore Halftime Rival Blogger Summit". Jenkins and Moore scored the first eleven points for Hofstra. The final four of those came on a Moore four point play as he was fouled hitting a three and the Pride were up 53-40 with 12:23 left.
Then the basketball gods made their presence known as did Manhattan. The Jaspers went on a 10-0 run over the next nearly five minutes. Beamon capped the run, by scoring two of his twenty two points on a layup. And suddenly the Hofstra lead was down to three, 53-50 with 7:30 left. The mild Jasper Jungle faithful now were suddenly in the game as was their team.
Whatever Cassara said to them worked, because the first Jenkins three was followed by another Jenkins three. Then a Shemiye McLendon three, then a Moore three. Despite the gym ceiling, the Pride were raining down shots from beyond the arc. Before you knew it, once what was a slim three point lead became a 20 point margin, 71-51, thanks to a Hofstra 18-1 run over a five minute span. With 2:39 left, the Jasper Jungle faithful were heading for the exits.
as the Pride won 71-58. During his sixteen point second half barrage, Jenkins would actually pass Claxton on the all time Hofstra scoring list with 2016 points. Moore added a double double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Kelleher didn't score any points in the second half, but he did his damage in the first half with his 14 points.
The Pride as a whole shot 45 percent but that was including a blistering 12 of 21 from beyond the arc (57 percent). Manhattan was led by Beamon's 22 points on 8 of 14 shooting, but he was the only Jasper in double figures as the rest of his teammates only shot 11 of 31 from the field.
As I made my way across campus heading back to my car, going down through those three different level of stairs, I called my friend Mal. He had been texting me during the latter part of the game. I told him about the game and how Speedy was now a Warriors scout. We imagined Jenkins and Stephen Curry in the same backcourt and joked that we would have to get Warriors jerseys if that happened. Then I called Tieff while I warmed up the car in the parking lot, talked about the game briefly, then wished him some rest to get better.
Amazingly, I didn't hit any traffic again on the Cross Bronx Expressway (apparently people were in the malls instead) and made my way home with a new frog magnet for the refrigerator. And yes, that's my Bally sitting next to him. As I put the frog magnet on top of the refrigerator, I realized I was hungry. As much as I try to be impartial, I am at heart a Hofstra fan. And as always, after a good win, I have a celebratory snack. In this case, it was a bologna and cheese sandwich on a roll.
Food always tastes better after a good live college basketball game...especially after a Hofstra win.