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December 17, 2013

Manhattan throttles Gamecocks

Manhattan came in with the nation's longest road winning streak this season and left with it intact, defeating South Carolina 86-68 Tuesday night at the Colonial Life Arena.

The Jaspers, who had won six of their seven games away from home, added one more to their nation-leading total by stifling a Gamecock offense that never got comfortable and punishing USC's interior to the tune of 39 free-throw attempts, converting 34 of them, to win handily.

The Gamecocks (2-4) never threatened, losing their last lead (27-26) with 7:23 left in the first half and facing double-digit leads most of the second half. USC's best chance to get close came when the Gamecocks shaved the Jasper lead to five at 68-53 with 11:31 left on a jumper by Sindarius Thornwell and three-point play by Michael Carrera.

But from there Manhattan (8-2) went on a 16-6 run and never saw the lead sink below double digits the rest of the way as an announced crowd of 7,753 had little reason to get to its feet except to leave.

South Carolina was led in scoring by Sindarius Thornwell's 17 points, 13 of which came in the second half and most from the free-throw line (10-of-13). Also scoring in double digits were Ty Johnson (12) and Michael Carrera (10).

The Jaspers were led by George Beamon's 26, followed by Alvarado's 20.

"They took it to us," Martin said. "They beat us for loose balls, they beat us on the glass. They beat us on blocked shots, they beat us for steals. Heck, my front line guys couldn't get defensive rebounds against 6-foot-1 guys.

"Credit Manhattan. They've got upperclassmen. They have a real good basketball team; I knew that going in.

"They're a good team. I wish I could tell you I'm surprised at what happened today but I'm not."

In the first half, the game was anyone's to take halfway through the period. After battling to a 28-28 tie with 7:01 to play, Manhattan launched a crippling 17-6 run on the back of suffocating defense and free throws. While the Gamecocks were spotty from the line in the first half (9-of-19), the Jaspers were a sensational 18-of-19. Pacing the Jaspers at the line was Alvarado, who went 7-of-7 for 14 first-half points.

Against Manhattan's pressure - the Jaspers finished with 11 steals to USC's three and had eight to South Carolina's none in the first half - the Gamecocks had no offensive answers and appeared lost at best.

"They're (running the system) 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. That's part of youth.

"If you want to be a good team, you have to execute your offense through your structure. You've got to have five guys on the floor that understand their responsibility and all do it to the best of their abilities. We're still trying to figure that out. When it's easy, our guys do it. When it's hard, that's where our immaturity (comes in). Guys tend to break stuff off, guys can't maintain focus to finish a play to the end."

For Johnson, Manhattan's pressure was the key to the game.

"Their pressure made us play fast," said Johnson, who had as many assists - three - as turnovers. "They made us play not our way but their way.

"The first couple minutes we came out strong doing what we do, but they put the pressure on and as a team we shut down and let them get to us, create turnovers."

Thornwell, who struggled in the first half with four points, agreed.

"They just played harder than us," Thornwell said. "When they hit us, we lost energy. We have to be able to take the hits and play with the energy we played with from the beginning."

Martin laid some of the blame for Tuesday's flat performance at the feet of a break in which the Gamecocks only played one game in the past 22 days.

"Probably wasn't a very good idea to have so many days off between games," Martin said.

"We couldn't sustain focus and discipline and effort in practice all week. We went to the bench, and the bench didn't give us any life.

"You know, your bench has to come in and they can make mistakes, but they have to give you tremendous life. Our bench gave us no life, and I have to end up playing Sindarius too many minutes, and now he's tired. We just have to grow up. There's no other way around it."

The only silver lining in Martin's playbook from Tuesday's 18-point home loss was the clock.

"The only positive is the game's over," Martin said. "That's the only positive I can think of. When you get outplayed that bad, I don't know how you can go home and feel good about anything that just took place.

"We got outplayed in every way, shape or form, and that's including coaching and the whole deal.

"We'll stay patient. It's a long season."



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