Manhattan handles South Carolina 86-68

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Manhattan has proved to be a true road warrior in the early portion of the season. The Jaspers have only played at home three times in their first 10 games, but that has yet to slow them.

The latest victim is the first from a BCS conference. George Beamon scored 26 points and Michael Alvarado 20 added as Manhattan won its seventh straight road contest with a 86-68 victory over South Carolina Tuesday night at the Colonial Life Arena.

The seven road victories are the most by a Division I team against other Division I teams.

“It’s one of those things with this group of guys,” Manhattan coach Steve Masiello said. “They’re really good when you give them one thing to focus on. When we’re on the road, it’s just us playing basketball and hanging out. Sometimes at home you’re getting pulled by family, friends, school, people wanting tickets, just a variety of things so sometimes home can be more distracting than the road. The road simplifies things for us.”

Beamon likes the aspect of playing at home but said the road games are at times easier.

“We come together more when we play away,” Beamon said. “It’s us against the world and when our backs are against the wall we usually are up for the challenge.”

It was a total team effort for the Jaspers (8-2). They had 10 players score and 10 collected at least one rebound with five players tying for team-high honors with five each. They out-rebounded the much bigger Gamecocks 33-27 and finished with more blocks and steals.

“They have a bunch of upperclassmen and are a real good basketball team. I knew that going in,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. “They beat us to loose balls, they beat us on the glass, they beat us on blocked shots, they beat us on steals. I wish I could tell you I’m surprised with what happened but I’m not.”

The teams kept things close during the opening 13 minutes with neither holding more than a six-point advantage.

The Jaspers trailed for the final time with a little over seven minutes remaining in the half but closed with a 17-6 run to take a 45-34 lead at the break.

Donovan Kates started the run with two free throws and the Jaspers were perfect on 12 free throws during that stretch. The only two field goals were a 3-pointer from Shane Richards and a dunk by Alvarado.

That closing run allowed Manhattan to go 18 of 19 from the free throw in the opening 20 minutes. They finished 34 of 39 from the free throw line and consistently frustrated the Gamecocks by getting into the paint, drawing the foul and converting.

“We wanted to make sure we got touches in the paint and didn’t settle for jump shots,” Masiello said. “We thought we could get to the free throw line against their aggressive perimeter defense.”

Alvarado scored 14 of his points in the first half with eight coming during that closing spurt.

Beamon did most of his damage in the second half. He scored 19 of his points after the break.

South Carolina, which had not played a game in 11 days and just once since Nov. 24, did close within five points twice in the second half but could never get any closer.

Sindarius Thornwell led the Gamecocks (2-4) with 17 points. Ty Johnson chipped in 12 and Michael Carrera added 10.

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