DAYTON, Ohio (CBSNewYork/AP) — Manhattan couldn’t overcome its slow start against Hampton.
It was possible that Manhattan coach Steve Masiello would end up taking on his alma mater, Kentucky, in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.
But Hampton — which had to win four games in a row just to get into tournament with a losing record — had other plans.
Reginald Johnson scored 15 points to lead the Pirates (17-17) past the Jaspers (19-14) and into a showdown with No. 1-ranked Kentucky, which is chasing a perfect season.
“Just an off-night for us,” Masiello said. “We let our offense dictate our defense a little bit. We didn’t really play typical Manhattan basketball. But give Hampton the credit for that.”
The Jaspers never led, falling behind 7-0. After getting close late in the game, Hampton pulled away again.
“We didn’t play our style,” Manhattan starting guard RaShawn Stores said. “We just came out a little flat.”
“I think we might have wanted it a little too much,” Masiello said. “Instead of just relaxing, I think guys wanted to deliver. But that’s what the tournament does to you. And this tournament, I’ve seen it do it to a lot of very good teams that I’ve been a part of where it can change your identity.”
Quinton Chievous had 15 points and 13 rebounds before leaving with a sprained ankle in the final minutes for Hampton, champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Brian Darden added 13 points, including six clinching free throws in the last minute.
Johnson sealed the game with two huge steals, the second leading to his floor-length assist pass to Emmanuel Okoroba for a layup. Okoroba then hit a scoop shot on a drive and the lead was 67-58 with 90 seconds remaining. Manhattan never threatened again.
The 68th team in a 68-team field, Hampton won as an underdog yet again.
Shane Richards scored 17 points and Emmy Andujar 11 for the Jaspers, champions of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament.
“You have to give Hampton credit,” Masiello said. “I know we’re all caught up in whether they had a losing record, (the fact that) they’re 68th and we’re 67. But they came out and played tonight.”
The Jaspers came in as an above-average free-throw shooting team at 69.4 percent.
On a night when they were scrambling to catch up from the outset, they hit just 12 of 21 (57.1 percent).
Asked if he was surprised how his team started the game, Masiello said, “I was. When you see us shoot 57 percent from the foul line — and I think we’re 1 for 5 at one point — it just wasn’t our brand. It just wasn’t us.”
A FOUL APPROACH
Manhattan was in foul trouble all night. Five players had two fouls apiece by half, and 6-foot-10 forward Ashton Pankey carried four fouls for much of the second half. Another big man, Emmy Andujar, also was confined to the bench because of foul trouble.
The Jaspers struggled to keep up with the quicker Pirates in transition.
“It was frustrating I couldn’t be out there for my team,” Andujar said. “I sat on the bench probably 10 minutes that first half. We still had a lot of basketball to be played, but obviously I didn’t play my best game today. So we came up short.”
Hampton ended up hitting almost half of its shots (26 of 53, 49.1 percent) while Manhattan struggled all night. The Jaspers, typically a good-shooting team (44 percent from the field, 34 percent behind the arc, finished at 37 and 24 percent.
The Jaspers’ top outside threat, Richards, was 6 of 16 from the field and 4 of 14 on 3-pointers.
“It happens. You make shots, you miss shots,” he said. “A lot of my shots were good shots. They went in and out. Can’t do anything about that. They just weren’t falling.”
Hampton: No. 15-seeded Hampton shocked second-seeded Iowa State 58-57 in the 2001 tournament’s first round in Boise, Idaho, when Tarvis Williams hit a 4-footer with 6.9 seconds left.
It ranks as the greatest win in program history.
Manhattan: The Jaspers won’t get a chance to create a bracket racket as they have twice before. Seeded 12th, they surprised No. 5 Florida 75-60 in the 2004 first round, and also pinned fourth-seeded Oklahoma with a 77-67 loss in the first round in 1995.
They fell to 3-9 in their nine trips to the NCAAs.
For Hampton, mighty Kentucky awaits in Louisville on Thursday night.
Manhattan loses only one (Stores) of its top nine scorers. Four of the starters are juniors, with several top freshmen and sophomores waiting in the wings.
“If you would’ve told me four years what we’ve done with this group, I would’ve taken it in a second,” said Masiello, who was hired by the Jaspers in 2011. “The only thing I was upset about was I thought we were better than what we showed and we didn’t show that.”
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)