JERSEY CITY, NJ - A floater in the lane by Saint Peter's guard Blaise Ffrench with 4.5 seconds left and the shot clock expiring was the difference in the Iona College men's basketball team's 64-62 loss in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action at the Yanitelli Center. The Peacocks (4-4, 1-0 MAAC) erased a 10-point halftime deficit in defeat of the Gaels (3-3, 1-1 MAAC).
Trailing 16-12 with 10:48 in the first half, Iona used a 15-0 run over the next eight minutes to earn its double digit advantage. A jumper from just inside the three-point line by senior Curtis Dennis put the Maroon & Gold ahead 27-16 with 2:43 remaining in the half. The Gaels led 31-21 at the break despite shooting just 36.4% from the field. Iona held a 25-18 advantage on the boards and held the Peacocks to just 25.9% shooting in the frame.
Saint Peter's chipped away six points from the deficit at the first media timeout after sophomore Desi Washington's second of three second half three-pointers made the score 35-31 at 15:54. Washington finally tied the score at 38-38 a little less than four minutes later and the score remained tied a the under 12 official stoppage. The Gaels went on a 12-4 run to lead by eight points after junior Tre Bowman's layup gave his team a 50-42 cushion with 7:35 away. Saint Peter's continued its resilience and used a 12-3 run of its own to take its first lead since the midway point of the second half. Sophomore Chris Burke's conventional three-point play with 5:23 gave the Peacocks the lead for the moment.
Junior Sean Armand answered the Peacocks' lead change on the next possession and drained a three-ball from the wing. The Gaels couldn't find more than a one possession cushion. Senior Lamont Jones' floater in the paint at 3:31 made the score 59-56 in favor of the Gaels. Saint Peter's senior Darius Conley hit 1-of-2 from the free throw line and added a layup to equal the score at 59-59. Armand followed by converting just 1-of-2 from the stripe. After a defensive stop, Iona had an opportunity for key insurance points but Saint Peter's held on for a stop of its own. Conley's three-point play on the ensuing possession put the Peacocks ahead 62-60 with 48 seconds remaining. A quick layup by Jones tied the score setting up the final turn for Saint Peter's. After solid defense for the first 20 seconds, the Peacocks called time out with 16.7 on the game clock and 12 on the shot clock. Taking away Ffrench's right hand drive, the Saint Peter's senior found enough space to get a shot off and found the bottom of the net with 4.5 left. Jones' three-pointer as time expired was long and the Gaels dropped the heartbreaker by two points.
Armand led the Gaels with 19 points and eight rebounds. He scored 10 of his 19 in the first half and was 3-for-5 from downtown. Sophomore Tavon Sledge added 13 points and three assists while Jones added 11. Senior Taaj Ridley had eight points and eight boards and Bowman also added eight rebounds in the loss.
Ffrench and Conley had 17 points a piece for the home team. Ffrench posted eight assists and Conley had a team-best nine boards. Washington had 15 in the win.
The Gaels are back in action Saturday at the MSG/ECAC Holiday Festival when they take on Rutgers for a 9:30 pm tip at Madison Square Garden.
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