NEW YORK – Manhattan’s George Beamon converted on a last second three-point play to cap a wild final two minutes of action as the Jaspers escaped Levien Gymnasium with a 71-70 win on Tuesday night.
Trailing by two with 51 seconds to play, Grant Mullins hit a 3-pointer from the left corner a great drive-and-kick by Isaac Cohen to give the Lions (1-1) their first lead, 68-67, since the 8:35 mark of the second half.
The Jaspers (2-0) appeared to have a good look at the basket on their next possession, but Cory Osetkowski came up with a huge block to give the ball back to Columbia. Mullins was fouled as Manhattan applied its full-court press and hit both of his free throws to put Columbia up three, 70-67, with 19 seconds on the clock.
The Lions played tight defense on the other end, but fouled Michael Alvarado while attempting a three, giving Alvarado three free throws attempts.
Alvarado missed the first, made the second and missed the third, but Emmy Andujar came up with an offensive rebound and missed a put-back try. However, George Beamon tipped in the second miss and was fouled in the process.
Beamon, who scored a game-high 28 points, made the free throw after an official review and five-tenths of a second remained in the clock. Columbia inbounded the ball, but it was deflected by Manhattan with three-tenths to go. Cohen pitched a good-looking pass to Luke Petrasek, but his tip-in rolled off the rim to end regulation.
The Lions’ offense clicked in the early stages of the first half and continued to use great ball movement and worked through the post to generate scoring.
Osetkowski picked up where he left off on Saturday, scoring four quick points to help Columbia jump out to a quick 6-0 lead. The Lions pushed the margin to 18-8 after a strong drive by Cohen with 10:59 left in the first.
Manhattan cut into the deficit by doing what they do best, get out on the fast break. Shane Richards tied the game with a triple from the right wing in transition to tie the score, 20-20, with 8:21 left in the first half.
The Lions answered right back after a nifty backdoor feed from Petrasek to Alex Rosenberg on the next possession and added to the cushion, 26-21, after a left corner trey by Rosenberg with 6:21 remaining in the period.
After a quiet start, the Beamon caught fire and scored seven-straight points, including a long 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Jaspers their first lead of the night, 35-32, at the 1:41 mark and Manhattan held on to that three-point advantage at the break.
The Jaspers’ defense made several adjustments after the intermission, allowing just one field goal over the first eight minutes of the frame, but could not break away due to the Lions ability to get to the charity stripe.
Columbia never trailed by more than two possessions and finally regained the lead, 51-50, after a circus layup by Mullins with 8:34 remaining. However, Alvarado sliced into the lane to put the Jaspers back on-top on the next possession and Richards canned his sixth from beyond the arc to push the advantage back up to four with 7:07 on the clock.
The teams traded a series of free throw attempts down the stretch before the dramatic finish.
Mullins finished with 23 points (21 coming in the second half) on 6-of-9 shooting and added three steals. Osetkowski chipped in 11 points, but was a key factor in Columbia outscoring Manhattan, 36-16, in the paint, while forcing the Jaspers’ top frontcourt players, Rhamel Brown and Ashton Pankey, to foul out of the game.
Manhattan was 10-of-12 from 3-point range and shot 48.7-percent from the floor. Columbia knocked down 47.8-percent of its attempts, but were just 4-of-15 from downtown.
The Lions will face their first road test when they travel to No. 2 Michigan State on Friday, Nov. 15. Tip-off is slated for 9 p.m. and will be televised by the Big Ten Network.