NEW ROCHELLE, NY - The Iona College women's basketball team moved its record to 18-2 overall, and 11-0 in league play, with a 68-55 victory over Fairfield Thursday evening in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action at the Hynes Athletics Center.
The win pushed the Gaels' winning streak to 17 games, matching the Iona College basketball record for consecutive victories held by the 1979-80 men's team led by Goal Club Hall of Famer Jim Valvano.
Junior guard Damika Martinez led all scorers with 26 points. Martinez pushed her career scoring total to 1558 points, moving ahead of Megan Cobb '02 for the third most in program history. Martinez also pulled down seven rebounds and matched a season high with five assists.
Sophomore forward Joy Adams contributed her 12th consecutive double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Junior guard Aleesha Powell had eight points and a team high six assists to go along with a game high three steals. Redshirt senior guard Haley D'Angelo had seven points, five rebounds, five assists and matched Powell's three steals.
The early portion of the contest saw two of the conference's heavyweights trade punches, as the first half included five ties and five lead changes. With Iona ahead 15-12 with 13:24 remaining in the period, Fairfield answered with a 9-2 run, taking a 21-17 lead on a three pointer by guard Kristin Schatzlein with 10:27 left in the stanza.
Iona answered with an 8-0 run, ignited by six points from Adams. Martinez ended the charge with a jumper to give the Gaels a 25-21 advantage with 5:06 remaining in the first. Five straight points by Fairfield gave the Stags the lead back before the Gaels went on a late 10-4 run. With the game tied at 28, sophomore forward Cassidee Ranger gave the Gaels the lead for good with a three before a Martinez layup gave the Maroon & Gold a 35-30 cushion with 40 seconds left. Fairfield forward Katie Cizynski would answer with a layup just before half to cut the Fairfield deficit to three, 35-32, at the break.
Back-to-back three pointers, one from Martinez and one from Adams, gave Iona a nine point lead, 41-32, right out of the break. A pair of baskets from Fairfield's Brittany Obi-Tabot cut the margin to five, 41-36, with 15:47 left. Iona gained an eight point margin minutes later on a free throw by Adams before an 8-3 run by the visitors cut the lead to three, 47-44, with 9:12 left on the clock.
The Maroon & Gold kept the Stags from getting any closer. With Iona ahead 51-48 with 6:57 remaining, the Gaels got three pointers on three straight possessions to spark a 9-2 run, taking its first double digit lead of the contest, 60-50, on Martinez's trifecta with 4:37 left in the contest.
Fairfield scored the next five points to cut the deficit in half before Iona ended the contest on an 8-0 charge, grabbing its biggest lead of the contest, 68-55, on a pair of Martinez free throws with 26 seconds remaining.
The Stags were led by Cizynski's 22 points and 12 rebounds while Obi-Tabot pitched in 11 points, seven boards and seven assists.
The Gaels are back in action Saturday when they travel to Siena for a 1:00 pm start.