SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Manhattan showed Loyola the MAAC door a bit earlier than many expected Saturday night. The Greyhounds, the defending league champs who are headed for the Patriot League next season, were upset by the Jaspers 55-52 in a league tournament quarterfinal that actually ended on Sunday morning. The sixth-seeded Jaspers (13-17) led wire to wire and withstood a frenzied finish to move on to face No. 7 Fairfield, which upset No. 2 Rider before the third-seeded Greyhounds also went down. No. 1 Niagara and No. 4 Iona play in the other game. Manhattan lost twice to Loyola this season (and twice last season). The most-recent defeat was last Sunday, a game that was preceded by a skirmish that left Loyola without a pair of suspended forwards, which affected the Greyhounds' play inside. "I was happy they were leaving the conference; I couldn't beat Loyola and Jimmy (coach Patsos), so I was happy they were leaving," said Manhattan coach Steve Masiello, a long-time friend of the cantankerous Loyola coach. "They're a great team. There's a reason they were defending champs." The Greyhounds were down by 14 in the second half and by 12 when Patsos engaged in the first of two shouting matches with forward Erik Etherly on the floor in front of the Loyola bench; over defensive positioning. Whatever the coach's motive, it worked; his team started to charge. They had several chances to tie or win in a wild ending scramble, right up to Robert Olson's off-balance 3-pointer that came close at the buzzer. "You're not going to beat a team in this conference, at this time ... you're not going to beat a team by 15, 14, it's not happening," said Masiello. "So you know they're making a run. Can you withstand it? That's what toughness is; can you withstand that type of run?" The Jaspers did. Barely. "There's no excuses. We just didn't get in our rhythm, but we had a chance to win the game, and that's why we do this stuff," said Patsos, who, as mad at his own players as much as at the officials, got a technical foul early; when his team fell behind 18-5. "It just wasn't our night and I thought our kids showed a lot of heart to be right there." The loss drops Loyola to 21-11, but doesn't necessarily end the Greyhounds' season as they will await a call from one of the postseason tournaments. "We've had a really good year. I really hope it continues," Patsos said. "I see my friends over here from certain places that we would love to be in their tournament, because we love to play basketball. But I try to get my guys to understand that it's not always going to go your way." Rhamel Brown had 12 points and 12 rebounds and a key block late for the Jaspers, who got nine points and eight rebounds by Emmy Andujar. Etherly and Dylon Cormier, who were both first-team All-MAAC, struggled offensively. Cormier did finish with 14 points and seven rebounds, but was 4 for 12 from the floor; and Etherly was 1 for 10, failing to convert one of the chances at the end. "We had great looks," Cormier said of the final sequence. "The (basket) might have had a lid on it. We had a couple of good looks." Manhattan survived despite going 15 for 27 from the foul line. But RaShawn Stores did hit a pair with 3.2 seconds left to ice the game. Now, the Jaspers face Fairfield, a team they beat twice in the regular season, once by a, get this, a 34-31 score. "I just joked to Sydney (Fairfield coach Johnson) first one to 25 wins," said Masiello, who faces a team that beat Rider 43-42 in the first game Saturday night. Things were going so well for the Jaspers in the first half that Andujar lost control of the ball on a drive and it popped up into the air and went in to make the lead 11. But Cormier hit a 4-point play and also had two free throws in an 8-2 spurt that left Manhattan up by four at the break. NOTES: A pre-game skirmish that took place prior to the teams playing in the regular season finale last Sunday left three players suspended for this game. With the coaches and officials not around, a Loyola player fired a ball at the head of Manhattan's Mohamed Koita, hitting him. It was the latest problem between these teams, and left Koita and Loyola's Julius Brooks and Jordan Latham nailed with one game each. "I don't know how it keeps happening, but the same thing happened last year down there," Brown told the New York Daily News. "I don't know why it keeps happening. That's what happens when two physical teams play each other. It gets physical and some people get upset I guess. They are very similar to us and I guess that's why we tend to clash." ... Brown was named MAAC defensive player of the year and made second team All-Conference. ... Loyola beat Manhattan 51-41 in the Bronx Jan. 25 and 63-61 last Sunday. ... In the first game of the night doubleheader, Rider had 21 turnovers and no assists, shot 29.5 percent from the floor, didn't hit a 3-pointer and still had a chance to win the game, losing by one to Fairfield.
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