NIAGARA UNIV., NY - The Iona College women's basketball team opened its 2013 conference slate with a 76-65 win over Niagara University Friday evening at the 'Taps' Gallagher Center.
With the game knotted at four with 19:01 remaining in the first, Iona took its first lead of the game on a layup by freshman forward Joy Adams. Niagara would tie the game at six before Iona went on an 11-0 run to take a double digit lead, 17-6, on a jumper by sophomore guard Aleesha Powell with 14:54 left in the first.
A layup by Adams with 9:02 remaining in the half gave Iona a 14 point lead, 25-11, before Niagara responded with a 10-0 run of its own, capped by a free throw by Shy Britton, cutting the Iona lead to four with 6:29 remaining.
Iona would respond, taking an eight point lead, 35-27, with 3:24 remaining in the first on a three pointer by sophomore guard Damika Martinez. Martinez would score the next six points for the Gaels, who held a 41-31 lead before a pair of free throws by Niagara's Kayla Stroman cut the Iona lead to eight at the half.
In the first, Iona shot 56.7% from the field, connecting on 17 of 30 attempts, including three from behind the arc. Impressive as well, Niagara shot 50.0% in the first half, hitting 11 of 22 attempts.
After Niagara opened the second with a field goal, a layup by junior center Sabrina Jeridore and jumper by Adams put Iona ahead 45-35 with 17:55 remaining.
After Powell put Iona ahead 48-37 with two free throws, the Purple Eagles would begin to climb back into the contest, scoring 11 straight points and tying the contest at 48 on a jumper by Chanel Johnson with 11:40 left.
However Niagara would not be able to take control of the contest. After seeing its lead evaporate, Iona responded with a 6-1 run, capped by Powell's three point play with 8:31 remaining.
After a jumper by Niagara's Lauren Gatto cut the Iona advatage to three, four consective free throws gave Iona a 58-51 lead with 7:11 remaining. The Purple Eagles would get within five before Iona went on a 7-0 run, taking a 65-53 cushion with 3:04 left on a jumper by Martinez. The Gaels would hold the double digit lead for the remainder of the contest as the team opened up conference play with a win for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
Martinez finished with a game high 29 points on 11-for-17 shooting from the field and a near perfect 5-for-6 effort from the line. Adams registered her fifth consecutive double-double, scoring 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting and pulling down 10 rebounds. Jeridore recorded her first career double-double, scoring a career-high 10 points and grabbing 10 boards. Gatto led Niagara with 22 points.
Iona looks to complete a perfect opening weekend Sunday, when they face Canisius on the road at 3:00 pm.