PURCHASE, N.Y. – Senior Armani Blackmon (Plano, Texas/Plano East) posted his second double-double of the year with 18 points and 14 rebounds and the Manhattanville men's basketball team shot a stellar 55.8 percent from the field in earning a 75-62 victory over Eastern in the teams' 2011-12 Freedom Conference opener on Wednesday night at Kennedy Gymnasium.
Blackmon had yet another excellent outing for the Valiants against the Eagles, shooting 8 of 12 from the field on the way to a career-high in points and posting his fourth double-digit rebound game of the young season. But he was not alone in helping to earn the win, as three other starters reached double figures as well for Manhattanville: sophomore Jack Bramswig (Pleasantville, N.Y./Pleasantville) again flirted with a double-double with 13 points and eight rebounds, senior Jeff Ventura (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Cypress Bay) scored 12 points, and classmate Trevoy Pointer (Dallas, Texas/Skyline) chilled in 11 as well.
The game-high scoring output wore the Eastern colors, however, as Alex Nelson poured in 26 points thanks to 11-of-14 shooting from the charity stripe. But no other Eagle reached double figures on the night, as the Valiants kept an Eastern offense that entered the game averaging 80.6 points per game to just 62.
The major difference in the game came in shooting accuracy, as the Valiants took six fewer shots but made a whole 11 more than their counterparts. Manhattanville was 29 for 52 (55.8 percent) from the field, while Eastern was held to just 31.0 percent shooting (18 for 58), including a 3 of 18 mark from beyond the arc.
Led by the inside tandem of Blackmon and Bramswig, Manhattanville also held a huge edge in points in the paint, outscoring Eastern by a 42-20 margin around the hoop, including a dominating 24-4 advantage in the opening half.
Neither team could shake the other in the first nine minutes with the score knotted up at 19 apiece, but Manhattanville made the first move of the night by using a 13-2 run to open up a double-digit lead at 32-22 with 5:12 left in the half. The Valiants also concluded the first frame on a 5-0 run to increase its lead to a half-high 15 points at 39-24 entering the intermission.
In the opening half, the home team shot an outstanding 60.7 percent (17 for 28) from the field in jumping out to the early lead, while the defense also held Eastern to only 27.6 percent (8 for 29) shooting at the other end of the court.
The lead continued to balloon early in the second half, as the Valiants started the frame with a Bramswig layup and three points from Pointer to crack the 20-point barrier (44-24) less than two minutes in. A few minutes later, the lead reached a game-high 22 on another Bramswig lay-in and again on a Blackmon jumper, the latter coming with 13:47 remaining.
The remainder of the game was filled with plenty of fouls but not a lot of drama, as the Valiant lead never slipped below 12 points the rest of the way. The only things that kept Eastern somewhat close were 13 Manhattanville turnovers and 27 second-half trips to the foul line, but neither provided nearly enough for the visitors to get a sniff of the lead.
Manhattanville (2-3, 1-0 Freedom) will look to continue its conference momentum on Saturday, as the Valiants travel to Dallas, Pa., to take on Misericordia beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern (4-2, 0-1 Freedom) will host Delaware Valley on Saturday at 3 p.m.