NEW ROCHELLE, NY - Iona College men's basketball senior Lamont Jones' 30 points and disruptive defensive play in the second half helped led the Gaels (9-6, 3-1 MAAC) to a 78-70 win over Manhattan in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play at the Hynes Center. The Maroon & Gold avenged its lone league loss at home last season, defeating a short-handed Jasper (4-10, 2-2 MAAC) with a solid second half surge.
Iona struggled offensively in the first half, shooting just 9-for-27 (33.3%). Manhattan hit five three pointers and shot 48.3% from the field and took a six point lead into halftime. The Jaspers led by as many as eight points in the frame after two Rhamel Brown free throws made the score 33-25 with 1:36 remaining.
Jones began a torrid second half effort on both ends of the ball on the first possession. After shooting 2-for-8 with eight points in the first half, the senior was 6-of-9 from the field training all four three-point attempts and all six free throw attempts scoring 22 points in total.
Jones drew a charge on point guard RaShawn Stores just 15 seconds into the half. He followed it up with a driving score to the basket to cut the deficit to four points. After collecting a charge on Stores for the second straight possession, Jones drained a three-pointer to make it a one point ball game. Manhattan hit 1-of-2 free throws on its next turn to go up 37-35 at 18:54. Jones buried another three, his eighth point on three straight Iona possessions to give Iona a one point lead just 11 seconds later.
Manhattan regained the lead a minute later and held a single-digit advantage until junior Sean Armand's free throw knotted the score at 46-46 with 14:31 on the clock. After trading buckets, junior Tre Bowman buried a trifecta from the corner to give Iona the lead for good with 12:56 remaining. The Gaels methodically build a double-digit lead for the first time in the game on another Bowman three pointer. The bucket at 4:30 put Iona ahead 71-61. The Japsers could not get any closer than six points the rest of the way.
Jones shot 8-for-17 from the field, 4-of-5 from downtown and 10-for-10 from the free throw line. It was his third perfect double-digit effort from the charity stripe this season. He improved his season percentage to 90.2%. Jones also added two points, two assists, and two steals and drew a Iona season-best four charge calls.
With Jones' usual running mates Armand and David Laury slowed by injuries and illness, senior Taaj Ridley scored a season-best 14 points to compliment Iona's leading scorer. Ridley was 5-of-10 from the field and added a team-high seven rebounds.
Bowman tallied nine critical points off the bench and had four rebounds. Laury and Armand each had season-lows with six points. Sophomore Tavon Sledge also recorded six points but had a career and Iona season-high eight assists. Freshman A.J. English snapped a three-game double-digit point scoring streak but hit two key three-pointers for the Gaels in the second half. Junior DaShawn Gomez had all four of his assists in the second half.
Missing starters George Beamon and Michael Alvarado, Manhattan had three-double digit scorers led by sophomore Emmy Andujar's 17. He had eight boards and three assists. Brown filled up the stat sheet with 16 points, nine rebounds, seven blocks and a team-leading four assists. Donovan Kates had 10 points off the bench.
For the second straight game, Iona was out shot (48.2%-47.1%) and out rebounded (33-26) but came out victorious on the scoreboard.
The Gaels are back in action Thursday night at Marist.