BALTIMORE, MD - The Iona College men's basketball team fought off Loyola Maryland in key 79-71 win on the road in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action at Reitz Arena. The Gaels (14-7, 8-2 MAAC) stand in second place alone after defeating the Greyhounds (15-7, 7-3 MAAC) in their final league contest in Baltimore.
Senior guard Lamont Jones scored 20 of his game-high 23 points in the second half including 13 of Iona's 15 in the final six minutes of the game to lead the Maroon & Gold in the win.
Jones headlined four double-digit scorers for Iona in the contest. Junior Sean Armand posted 14 points, four assists and four rebounds. Junior Tre Bowman had 11 points and five boards while sophomore David Laury posted his third straight double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds in the win. Sophomore Tavon Sledge added nine points, five rebounds and three assists.
Loyola tied the score at 2-2 2:20 into the contest. A little over a minute later Bowman hit a three-pointer and the Gaels never relinquished the lead. A 6-0 run capped by a Bowman dunk at 13:50 put Iona ahead 13-4. The Gaels led by 12 points on a Jones free throw almost three minutes later. A 7-0 Greyhound run cut the deficit to five points but Iona scored five straight of their own to recapture the double-digit lead with 6:47 remaining in the first half.
Loyola cut it to six points with less than three minutes remaining, but the Gaels regained composure and scored seven straight to open its largest lead of the half. Junior DaShawn Gomez' three-pointer at 1:28 made the score 38-25. Iona went into halftime with an eight point as the Greyhounds scored the last five points of the frame.
Each time Loyola mounted a run in the second half the Gaels had an answer. The home team got to within six points on four separate occasions, only to be followed by an Iona spurt that regained a double-digit lead. After a conventional three-point play by jones put Iona ahead 69-56 with 5:12 left, Loyola scored 12 of the next 14 points and trailed by five with less than two minutes remaining. Nine of the Greyhounds points during the stretch came right after Armand picked up his fifth and disqualifying foul with 4:57 on the clock.
Again, the Gaels regained composure, cranked up their defense and built a double-digit lead over the next 1:25. Two Bowman free throws with 32 ticks remaining sealed the win for the Maroon & Gold.
Loyola's Dylon Cormier posted 18 points and seven rebounds. Robert Olson had 14 points with the help of a 3-of-10 effort from beyond the arc. Jordan Latham scored nine of his 11 points in the first half. The Gaels held the Greyhounds' top post presence, Erik Etherly, to eight points and seven rebounds on 3-of-12 shooting from the field.
Iona shot 48.1% from the field against a team that held its opponents this season under 40.0%. The Greyhounds posted a 38.9% field goal percentage. Loyola out rebounded the Gaels 40-39 and had 18 assists to just six turnovers.
The Gaels continue their pivotal three-game stretch in Western New York next weekend. First up is first place Niagara Thursday night on ESPN3. A win would place Iona in a tie for at the top of the standings with the Purple Eagles, but more importantly earn a regular season sweep and a key tiebreaker against one of the top teams in the conference this season.
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