ALBANY, NY - The Iona College men's basketball team overcame a season-low 37.9% shooting effort and a 10-point second half deficit in a 66-62 win over Siena in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action at the Times Union Center. The Gaels (8-6, 2-1 MAAC) earned their first victory on the Saints' (2-12, 0-3 MAAC) home floor since 2006 and just the second in the last 12 appearances in Albany.
Senior Lamont Jones put the Gaels ahead by five points - their largest lead of the half - with a three-pointer at 13:09. Four minutes later, Siena freshman Brett Bisping knotted the score at 15-15 on a free throw attempt. Iona regained a five point advantage at 7:13 on a three-ball by rookie A.J. English making the score 22-17. The Saints outscored the Gaels' 12-2, held the visitor's scoreless over the final 6:01 of the half and held a 29-25 lead at the break.
Siena netted the first two field goals and took a 33-24 lead just over 90 seconds in to the second half. Iona ended a 8:16 scoring drought on two Jones' free throws. Saints' senior OD Anosike punished Iona over the first seven minutes of the second half scoring 11 of his team high 19 points. He would score his last bucket of the game, however, with 13:10 left; a put back to give his team a 41-32 advantage.
The Gaels' deceleration of Anosike was a key part of the comeback effort. Anosike was 5-for-5 with four rebounds in the first 6:50. He was just 0-for-1 with two boards in the final 13:10.
A second key to the comeback came with less than nine minutes to play. After a missed layup by Siena sophomore Rakeem Brookins that would have put his team up by 11 points with 8:52 to play, junior Sean Armand buried a three from the corner to make it a six-point Iona deficit. Jones followed with a steal in the backcourt and a conventional three point play and in less than 30 seconds the Maroon & Gold trailed by just three points.
Jones would hit two more free throws and Armand hit another three and cap an 11-0 run that saw Iona take a 51-49 advantage with 6:59 to play. The Gaels erased the nine-point deficit in less than two minutes.
From there it became a battle of wills. Each team scrapped for points but neither could take more than a one point advantage until the final minute. Junior Tre Bowman transition layup on a pretty feed from English with 1:45 left gave the Gaels the lead for good.
Brookins missed a three-pointer on the next possession. Ridley corralled an offensive rebound during Iona's turn with the ball and calmly sank two free-throws to earn a 61-58 advantage with 51 seconds left. Sophomore Tavon Sledge came up with a steal on Anosike in the high post with the shot clock off. Jones, Ridley and English combined for a 5-for-6 effort from the charity stripe as the Gaels staved off the Saints by four points.
Jones led the way with 19 points with the help of a 10-for-11 effort at the free throw line. He added five assists and four rebounds. Armand had 14 points, four rebounds and three assists. Junior David Laury had 12 points and nine boards while English posted 11 points off the bench.
Anosike's 19 points came on 8-of-11 shooting from the field. The nation's leading rebounder added 15 rebounds in the loss. Sophomore Rob Poole added 18 points and eight boards while draining four three pointers.
Siena out shot (41.4%-37.9%) and out rebounded (37-33) the Gaels. Iona committed a season-low eight turnovers.
In a quick turnaround Sunday evening, the Maroon & Gold hosts local rival Manhattan at the Hynes Center at 5:00 pm.