RIVERDALE, BRONX, NEW YORK, March 4- The Manhattan men's basketball team was edged in its regular-season finale Sunday falling 63-61 at Loyola (21-10, 12-6). Greyhounds' forward Erik Etherly set a career-high with 30 points as Manhattan's (12-17, 9-9) two-game win streak was snapped. The Jaspers were led in scoring by junior forward Rhamel Brown who finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, marking his 18th double-digit performance of the season.
Manhattan enters the 2013 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament as the #6 seed. The Jaspers will have a rematch with #3 Loyola on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals in Springfield, Mass. at the MassMutual Center.
Etherly scored 19 of his 30 points by halftime as the Greyhounds carried a 39-35 lead into the locker room. He had half of Loyola's first half field goals, shooting 7-for-11 to anchor a 48.7% (14-29) effort.
The Jaspers got out of the gate quickly opening a six point lead three minutes into the game. Sophomore forward Donovan Kates buried a pair of free-throws after a technical foul was assessed to Loyola's sophomore guard R.J. Williams to give Manhattan an 8-2 advantage. Kates shot 7-for-7 from the free-throw line and had nine of his 11 points in the opening stanza.
Manhattan led for the majority of the first half before Loyola captured a lead in the last five minutes that it managed to hold on to. The Greyhounds scored nine straight points with Etherly posting seven. He tied the game for the ninth time with 4:51 on the clock in the first half on a free-throw, and then converted consecutive layups to give the Greyhounds a 36-30 cushion 2:27 before intermission.
The Greyhounds pieced together an 11-2 run to take its largest lead of the contest at 13:19 in the second half. Junior guard Dylon Cormier finished a layup through traffic to put Loyola on top 52-39. Cormier posted 14 points and a team-high seven rebounds in the contest.
The resilient Jaspers battled all the way back getting key buckets from senior guard Mohamed Koita and sophomore forward Emmy Andujar to make it a three point game with less than four minutes to play. Koita gave Manhattan a huge boost with back-to-back three-pointers. Four minutes later Andujar converted a layup to make it a 58-55 ballgame with 3:55 remaining.
The contest came down to only a few possessions, but two costly turnovers by the Jaspers helped Loyola withstand Manhattan's late rally. Cormier topped off a 6-for-7 free-throw shooting effort with a pair of free-throws with 1:50 remaining to open a six point advantage. Etherly's dunk with 17 seconds on the clock kept it a six point game allowing Loyola to escape.
Koita did not miss a shot as he finished with 10 points going 3-for-3 from the field and 2-for-2 at the free-throw line. Andujar also had 10 points and a team-high three assists in 26 minutes off the bench.
Manhattan shot 50% (12-24) in the second half and finished the contest 46.7% (21-45) from the field. The Jaspers' stingy defense limited Loyola to only six field goals and a 37.5% (6-16) shooting mark in the final 20 minutes. It was the eighth straight game Manhattan held its opponent to fewer than 65 points.
The Jaspers are 3-1 in their four meetings with Loyola in the MAAC Championships. The programs last met in the 2010 MAAC Tournament First Round as Manhattan rolled to a 94-79 victory at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y.