In tonight’s battle for Manhattan’s basketball throne, one team’s misfortune became the other’s gain, as the Jaspers pulled out the stunning 71-70 victory at Levien Gymnasium.
The play that gave Manhattan a second life was a controversial foul call on Mike Alvarado’s desperation three-point attempt with 4 seconds to go, down 70-67. During the play, Alvarado leaned into Columbia defender Maodo Lo (8 points, 6 rebounds) and was granted the shooting foul despite Lo’s proper defense. Alvarado then went to the line for three shots, and the chance to tie the game at 70.
After missing the first and making the second to get Manhattan within 2 points, Alvarado appeared to intentionally miss the third. The rebound fell to a fortunate Jasper player whose errant putback fell just within the reach and leap of George Beamon. As he crashed to the floor, he laid it perfectly off the backboard and in, getting fouled in the process. Confidently, the 5th year senior stepped to the line and swished the free throw to take the one point lead, 71-70. But it wasn’t quite over yet.
With 0.5 seconds on the clock, Columbia desperately launched the ball to the free throw line extended on the offensive end, where the ball was knocked out of bounds with only two-tenths ticking off. Off a back screen at the top of the circle, freshman Luke Petrasek (6 points, 4 rebounds) cut to the hoop and received a near-perfect pass from sophomore guard, Issac Cohen (3 points, 2 assists). Colliding in the air with a defender, Petrasek guided the ball with his dominant left hand toward the hoop, but as the final buzzer sounded, the game-winning bid fell just short.
For Columbia, Grant Mullins notched a career-high 23 points and showed the leadership and poise that Columbia will need from the Canadian-born sophomore guard. But the real story of the night was Manhattan’s George Beamon. The front-runner for MAAC POY finished with a game-high 28 points on an efficient 6-9 from the field and 13-14 from the line.
The Columbia Lions will play Michigan State on Friday night at 9pm at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.