ST. THOMAS, USVI - The Iona College men's basketball team dropped an 86-81 decision to the University of Illinois-Chicago in its final contest at the 2012 Ezybonds Global Payments USVI Paradise Jam. By virtue of the loss, the Gaels (2-2) finished sixth in the tournament.
The two teams traded leads and ties throughout the first half. Iona broke a 31-31 tie with 95 seconds left in the half on two free throws by junior Sean Armand. The Gaels matched their largest lead of the half as an Armand put back at the buzzer made the score 38-33 at the break.
The Maroon & Gold maintained its lead through the first 16+ minutes of the second half. Junior DaShawn Gomez put Iona ahead by 12 points with 6:57 remaining. The Gaels failed to put the Flames away as they scored 12 straight to tie the score at 70-70 at the 3:44 mark. A three-pointer by UIC's Hayden Humes was followed by nine straight from teammate Gary Talton to account for the run. Armand answered Talton's final trifecta with one of his own and the Gaels led 73-70 with 3:06 left. The Flames continued their prosperity with seven more points and led 77-73 with 1:44 to play.
The lead alternated between two and four points over the next 90 seconds as the teams traded UIC free throws and senior Lamont Jones layups. Trailing by four with less than 16 seconds to play, the Flames' Daniel Barnes missed two free throws setting up a potential game-tying possession for the Gaels. Jones got a look with less than seven seconds left but could not find the mark.
A critical point of the game ensued following a rebound by Marc Brown. Armand picked up his fifth foul sending Brown to the line. With Iona using its allotted time to replace Armand in the lineup, a despondent Jones appeared to be reenacting his miss near the basket. Inexplicably, he was charged with a technical foul leading to four straight UIC free throw attempts. With Talton sinking two, and Brown sinking one, the game was out of reach and the Flames came out with the 86-81 win.
Jones had a team-high 22 points with eight in the final 90 seconds. He shot 10-for-20 from the field while grabbing three rebounds and dishing out three assists. Jones scored 83 points in the three contests and shattered the previous three-game Paradise Jam point total of 73 set by Xavier's Tu Holloway in 2010. His 30 field goals made is also a tournament record (Alando Tucker, 26, 2005).
Armand scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds. He was 7-for-14 from the field with two three-pointers. He was 13-for-25 from beyond the arc for the tournament and tied the tournament record for three point field goals, shared by Toledo's Keonta Howell from 2006.
Junior Tre Bowman recorded season-highs with 16 points and nine rebounds. Senior Taaj Ridley posted nine points and 10 boards in the loss. Sophomore Tavon Sledge added eight points and three boards.
Humes torched the Gaels for 22 points including a 4-of-5 effort from beyond the arc. He added eight rebounds and two assists. Talton posted 17 points and seven assists while Barnes added 16 points and eight boards.
Iona was out shot 47.3% - 46.4% but out rebounded the Flames 37-30.
The Gaels have nine days off before opening MAAC play at the Hynes Center vs. Niagara on Nov. 28.
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