The Iona College Men’s Basketball team split their last four games, (2-2), and is currently on a two-game skid after falling to the first place Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Niagara Purple Eagles as well as Canisius.
Prior to embarking on their tough three-game road trip, the Gaels took on the St. Peter’s Peacocks at the Hynes Athletic Center.
After a shocking defeat earlier in the year in Jersey City, N.J., Iona got their revenge by pummeling the Peacocks 90-71.
Iona controlled the momentum the entire game and did not fall behind once in a total team effort. All five Gaels were in double-figures to help Iona extend their home win streak to 15 games. Senior guard Lamont Jones led the Maroon & Gold with a team high 24 points on 5-of-13 shooting from the field, 3-of-6 from 3-point range and 11-of-14 from the free-throw line.
Sophomore big man David Laury continues to be an important presence in the post. Laury scored 14 points and recorded 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the year. Sophomore guard Tavon Sledge scored 13 points and dished out 10 assists to record his first collegiate double-double.
On their first road game, the Gaels traveled to Baltimore, Maryland to take on the Loyola Greyhounds. The Gaels were very efficient defensively holding the Greyhounds to 38.9 percent shooting from the field and 29.2 percent from 3-point range. Similar to their last game, they led the entire way to earn a 79-71 victory.
Jones led the Gaels scoring a team high 23 points on 6-of-15 shooting from the field and 11-of-12 from the free-throw line. Laury earned his third-consecutive double-double scoring 10 points and securing 14 rebounds. Junior guard Sean Armand scored 14 points, four rebounds, four assists and one block in the victory.
Armand has developed into an all-around player helping the Gaels succeed the entire season. He believes he has had the ability all along but there is always room for improvement.
“I’m just showing the full package as a player, something I always have been in the past,” Armand said. “I just had to improve on showing it and still have a ways to go.”
The Gaels took their two game win streak north to take on first place Niagara University. Iona handed Niagara their only conference loss of the season in late November at home. The Gaels and the Purple Eagles exchanged leads 10 different times in the first half and the Gaels pulled ahead 41-38. Iona was led by Laury and Jones yet again, with both scoring 12 points in the first half.
An early 10-0 run in the second half put the Gaels ahead with momentum on their side. With just under seven minutes to go, the Gaels led by 15 points, their biggest lead of the game. However, the Purple Eagles slowly started to pick away and trim the lead. Up by five points with 43 seconds left, the Gaels looked like they had the game won.
But, with just over 20 seconds left in the game Niagara cut the lead to three points and stole inbound pass. The Purple Eagles hoisted three consecutive threes and secured three offensive rebounds. On the fourth attempt from three, sophomore Juan’ya Green hit the shot to send the game into overtime (81-81).
In overtime, the Gaels were able to tie the game three times but were unable to obtain a lead. With 20 seconds left and the game tied at 90, Green held the ball for the last shot at the top of the three point arc and won the game 93-90.
Laury led the Gaels with a team high 24 points and 16 rebounds for his fourth consecutive double-double. Jones also scored 23 points, on 47 percent shooting from the field and 20 percent from 3-point range. Jones became Iona’s 33rd player to score 1,000 points in school history.
The Gaels took on the Canisius Golden Griffins in Buffalo, NY to wrap up their three game road-trip. Iona and Canisius battled the entire game, which featured 12 ties and 14 lead changes. Iona was able to take advantage on second chance points opportunities scoring 14 of their 40 points in the first half off of them.
The second half featured the same back-and-forth intensity as the first half. Senior guard Curtis Dennis was able to provide some help off the bench for the Gaels scoring eight of his 11 points in the second half. However, the Gaels three point shooting woes (7-29) played a pivotal part in the 77-74 loss.
Ridley scored a career high 18 points in the losing effort. Jones snapped his five-game 20 point streak scoring only 13. As for Laury, he extended his double-double streak to five games after scoring 11 points and grabbing 16 rebounds.
With the loss, Iona has dropped to 14-9 overall and 8-4 in the MAAC, along with Canisius and Loyola. The Gaels have six remaining games on their schedule, four of which will be played at the Hynes Athletic Center, where the Gaels have been on a tear.
Armand explained there is a ton of inspiration leading the Gaels and they definitely want to be back where they were last year.
“Focus is the motivation from Mike Haynes and knowing how good it is to be in the tournament,” Armand said. “So we need to keep everyone hungry.”
“It’s going to come down to who makes more shots, we are going to battle, they are going to battle,” Head Coach Tim Cluess told Iona Mass Communications student Chelsea Janssen in a postgame interview.
“Everybody is so close to each other this year that it’s a matter of any given night does someone's third or fourth player get it going, and teams that are having that happen are the teams that are winning.”
Iona will be back in action Feb.7 as they welcome the Marist Red Foxes to New Rochelle.