NEW ROCHELLE, NY - The Iona College women's basketball team struggled early in the contest, shooting just 37.5% from the field in the first, but connected on 54.2% in the second half, leading to a 67-61 victory over Loyola University Maryland Friday evening at the Hynes Center. The Gaels' victory, combined with a Niagara victory over Fairfield, moved Iona into a tie for second place in the conference standings.
Early in the contest, Iona took a 7-4 lead with 15:15 remaining on a three pointer by sophomomre guard Damika Martinez. Loyola would tie the game at 10 on a jumper by Steph Smith, before a 5-0 run by Iona gave the Gaels a 15-10 lead with 10:17 left in the first.
Smith would knock down another jumper with 8:35 remaining to cut the Iona deficit to one, 15-14, before the two teams struggled to connect for almost four minutes, as Iona next got on the board on a free throw by Martinez with 4:50 remaining in the half.
After the Greyhounds tied the game at 16, Iona went on a 6-2 run, taking a 22-18 lead with 1:18 remaining on a layup by freshman forward Joy Adams. Nicole Krusen would counter with a three-pointer with five seconds remaining in the period to cut the Iona lead to one, 22-21, at half.
After Loyola took the lead 23-22 on a layup by Nneka Offodile to open the second half, Iona went on a 17-2 run capped by a Martinez three-pointer with 14:08 remaining, taking a 39-25 lead.
Down 53-43 with 8:01 remaining, Loyola responded with a 6-0 run, trimming the Iona lead to four, 53-49, on a jumper by Katie Sheahin. Iona would be able to regain a nine point lead, 62-53, on a layup by Adams with 3:39 remaining before Loyola answered with an 8-1 run, as a three pointer with 58 seconds remaining by Alyssa Sutherland put Loyola within two, 63-61.
It would prove to be the final points of the game for Loyola, as sophomore guard Aleesha Powell and Adams were each able to knock down a pair of free throws in the final mintue to cement the Iona victory.
Martinez scored just six points in the first half, but responded with 16 second half points to finish with a game high 22 points. Adams had a tremendous all-around effort, finishing with 17 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks and five steals. Redshirt junior guard Haley D'Angelo finished with 11 points and a game high seven assists. Sheahin led Loyola with 14 points, all coming in the second half.
The win clinched a bye for the Gaels from the opening round of the MAAC Championship for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. Iona looks to extend its winning streak, now at four, Sunday when it hosts Siena in the regular season home finale at 2:00 pm.
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