POUGHKEEPSIE, NY - The Iona College men's basketball team earned its fourth straight victory in a 86-82 second half come-from-behind effort at Marist in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action at McCann Arena. The Gaels (10-6, 4-1 MAAC) erased an 11-point deficit with less than 12 minutes to play by scoring 13 straight points and stand in first place alone in the league standings, for at least the evening.
A shoot out of a first half finished with a 45-42 lead for the Red Foxes. Marist shot 55.2% from the field in the frame and was 6-of-10 from beyond the arc to hold the lead at the break. The home team led by as many as nine points after two Devin Price free throws at 8:52. Sophomore David Laury gave Iona a short-lived 38-37 advantage with just under three minutes to play.
Senior Lamont Jones evened the score at 50-50 on a layup at 17:21. Marist used an 11-1 run in a 2:28 span to take its first double-digit lead of the game at the 14:53 mark. A three pointer by Marist sophomore Chavaughn Lewis gave the Red Foxes their largest lead of the game, 66-55 at 11:54. An Iona miss was followed by a Marist turnover set up the turning point of the game.
Junior Sean Armand's layup was blocked by the Red Foxes' Adam Kemp setting up a breakaway setup for Price that looked to put his team up by 13 points. Price missed the thunderous dunk attempt. A defensive rebound by Jones sparked an Iona fast break and Armand drained a three-pointer to cut the Marist lead to 66-58 at 11:21. Armand struck again on the next possession as Jones found his teammate in the corner to cut the deficit to five. Laury tipped in a Jones miss on Iona's next turn with the ball and the deficit was just three. Jones erased it completely with a three ball of his own as Iona scored 11 straight points on four straight turns on offense in a span of 2:08. Jones would make it a 13-0 run on a breakaway layup after a steal.
Price continued his hot hand with 6:34 to play. His three-pointer gave Marist a 74-72 advantage, the last lead it would hold. Senior Curtis Dennis drained a trifecta from the wing to give the Gaels a lead for good with 6:04 left. With the two teams ramping up the defensive effort over the next several minutes, it was not until after a nifty pick and roll play between Jones and Laury at the 1:33 mark that Iona led by more than four points. Laury's conversion gave the Gaels a 82-76 lead.
Jones led the Gaels with 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting. He added six assists, five rebounds and four steals and committed just one turnover. Armand posted 19 points and a team-high seven rebounds and added three assists. Laury had 14 points and six rebounds while sophomore Tavon Sledge had eight points and five assists.
For the third straight game, the Gaels came from behind in the second half and were outshot for the game 55.2%-47.4%. Iona held a 37-33 rebounding advantage and committed just nine turnovers.
Price led four Marist scorers in double-figures with 27 points. Lewis netted 23 points while sophomore Isaiah Morton added 15 and Kemp had a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double.
The Gaels are back in action on Sunday afternoon when they host Canisius at the Hynes Center. Pending the Golden Griffins' result tomorrow night at Siena, the matchup could pit two teams tied for first in the MAAC standings. With four league wins, the Gaels hold a half game advantage over Canisius, Niagara and Loyola with all three teams in action Friday night.