Rusty? Out of whack from an extended period of not playing?
Maybe, but Frank Martin wasn’t buying excuses for South Carolina’s 86-68 loss to Manhattan on Tuesday.
The bottom line was, Manhattan was better. Better on offense, better on defense, better mentally, better physically.
The better team.
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“We’ve just got to grow up,” Martin said, his red bow tie the only festive part of his mood. “There’s no other ways around the pill here. We know we’re a lot better. We did a real crappy job playing today.”
Manhattan (8-2) may end up being a powerful team this season – the Jaspers have already won seven road games – but that did little to soothe the sting. USC, even coming off a long break, isn’t supposed to lose home games to teams from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
“I don’t think time off hurt us,” sighed Ty Johnson, who scored 12 points. “I don’t make no excuses. We lost.”
Manhattan ran past USC on each end of the floor, causing turnovers and plucking the Gamecocks in transition, to give the Gamecocks a sour start to a stretch of five games in nine days. USC (2-4) trailed 11 at halftime, and twice cut the lead to five points in the second half, but the Jaspers each time answered with 5-0 runs to keep a comfortable lead. USC never found a solution to Manhattan’s dizzying speed and movement.
Sindarius Thornwell led the Gamecocks with 17 points. Michael Carrera had 10. USC shot a respectable 42.3 percent from the field, but allowed Manhattan to shoot 46.9 and get to the free-throw line 39 times.
The Jaspers made 34, while USC made 22-of-38. Manhattan drove to the hole and came away with points, USC didn’t. The Gamecocks also could not get a stop, exampled by the two times they cut the lead to five points.
Each time, the Jaspers got a 3-pointer, turnover or missed USC shot and two free throws. It was clinical.
The Gamecocks had no answer, whether it was trying to stop the Jaspers from relentlessly driving the lane, or answering the bell when they had to score. Thornwell and Johnson tried to take over at times, but each also mentioned that they’re trying to play in Martin’s offensive system.
“They’re doing it when it’s easy,” Martin said. “That means when the other team doesn’t provide resistance. When it’s hard, we’re not doing it. And that’s part of youth. We have to be able to execute and do the same things that we talk about doing, that we do, and that we’ve proven that we’ve done in games.”
The last gasp came when Bruce Ellington fed a perfec t alley-oop pass to Laimonas Chatkevicius with 6:51 left, USC trailing 72-59. A big jam might have given the Gamecocks energy for one last shot at the win.
Chatkevicius bricked the dunk. Mindaugas Kacinas fouled RaShawn Stores on the rebound.
“Their pressure made us play fast. Just made us play not our way, but play their way,” Johnson said. “First couple of minutes, we came out strong, doing what we do, then they put the pressure on and just as a team, we shut down and we let them get to us. They wanted it more, and they made free throws. They attacked us, we didn’t attack them. It’s just simple.”
Martin didn’t scream, didn’t glare, didn’t dress anyone down. Youth is the buzzword for this season. USC has it and Manhattan doesn’t.
“They took it to us,” Martin said. “My frontline guys couldn’t get defensive rebounds against 6-foot-1 guys. We got outplayed in every way, shape or form.
“It’s a long season. We’re going to stay patient.”
Note: Carrera and Michael Alvarado had to be separated during the post-game handshake. Martin said that he didn’t see it, but he did see Manhattan coach Steve Masiello waving that it was OK. He will take a further look.
“I’ll figure out what took place there,” Martin said.
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Beamon 8-13 7-7 26, Brown 2-4 1-2 5, Stores 0-2 2-2 2, Williams 4-4 1-1 9, Alvarado 4-8 10-11 20, Richards 1-5 0-0 3, Wilson 1-2 0-0 2, Andujar 1-5 2-2 4, Pankey 2-6 5-8 9, Allen 0-0 0-0 0, Kates 0-0 6-6 6. Totals 23-49 34-39 86.
SOUTH CAROLINA (2-4)
Henry 2-6 0-2 4, Kacinas 3-4 1-4 7, Thornwell 3-9 10-13 17, Johnson 3-8 6-11 12, Ellington 3-6 0-0 7, Williams 0-1 0-0 0, Shaw 0-2 0-0 0, Notice 0-0 0-0 0, Chatkevicius 3-6 1-2 7, Theus Jr. 0-0 0-0 0, McKie 0-0 0-0 0, Carrera 3-8 4-4 10, Ringer 2-2 0-2 4, Steele 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-52 22-38 68.
Halftime: Manhattan 45-34. 3-Point Goals: Manhattan 6-13 (Beamon 3-4, Alvarado 2-2, Richards 1-5, Stores 0-2), South Carolina 2-7 (Thornwell 1-2, Ellington 1-4, Williams 0-1). Fouled Out: Kacinas, Pankey. Rebounds: Manhattan 33 (Andujar, Beamon, Brown, Pankey 5), South Carolina 27 (Kacinas, Thornwell 5). Assists: Manhattan 13 (Alvarado 6), South Carolina 15 (Johnson, Thornwell 3). Total Fouls: Manhattan 30, South Carolina 23. Attendance: 7,573.