NEW ROCHELLE, NY - Sophomore guard Aleesha Powell's floater in the paint with 2.3 seconds left lifted the Iona College women's basketball team to a 60-58 victory over Niagara University Thursday evening at the Hynes Center, moving the Gaels to 5-2 in conference action.
In the onset of the game, the Gaels and Purple Eagles traded points until a layup by Niagara's Lauren Gatto tied the contest at six and began a 10-0 run by the Purple Eagles, with a jumper by Gatto giving the visitors a 14-6 lead with 11:28 remaining in the first half.
Following a timeout, Iona responded with a 9-2 run, cutting the deficit to one, 16-15, on a layup by freshman forward Joy Adams with 8:34 left in the period.
A three-pointer by sophomore guard Damika Martinez pushed Iona ahead 21-19 with 5:58 left in the half before a three pointer by redshirt junior guard Haley D'Angelo on the next trip down the court gave Iona a five point advantage.
Niagara trimmed the Iona lead with four straight free throws before a jumper by Gatto gave the Purple Eagles a 25-24 lead with 2:47 remaining. Niagara would score six of the final ten points of the half and hold a 31-28 lead at halftime.
Adams scored the first six points of the second half for the Gaels as Iona once again took the lead, 34-33, with 17:06 remaining. Niagara retook the lead on a layup by Shy Britton before Martinez put Iona ahead 37-35 with her third three pointer of the contest. The Purple Eagles answered with a 9-0 run, pulling ahead 44-37 on a jumper by Meghan McGuinness with 10:45 remaining.
A jumper by Martinez halted the Niagara run and started a 9-2 run for the Gaels. On three straight possessions, Iona converted three-point plays with a layup by Powell giving the Gaels a one point lead as the ensuing free throw gave Iona a 48-46 lead with 8:09 remaining.
A jumper by Val McQuade knotted the game at 48 before Iona answered with an 7-0 run, aided by three points from Powell and two each from Adams and Martinez. McQuade halted the run with four straight points and trimmed the Iona lead to rhee, 55-52, with 3:33 remaining.
With Iona 56-52 after a free throw by junior center Sabrina Jeridore, Niagara cut the deficit to one on a three pointer by Kelly CVan Leeuwen with 2:28 remaining. D'Angelo answered with a jumper to put Iona ahead by three, before McQuade knocked down an equalizer for Niagara, tying the game at 58 with 1:10 remaining.
After each team missed on its next possessions, Iona took a timeout with 15 seconds remaining. After Powell looked inside for a pass, the guard threw up a prayer in the paint and connecting. Niagara's last second heave was off line as Iona moved to 5-2 at the Hynes Center this evening.
Adams finished with a team high 17 points on 8-for-16 shooting from the field and pulled down 15 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass. Martinez finished with 16 points, two steals and two assists. Powell scored 11 second half points to go along with four assists and three steals. Gatto scored a game high 20 points for Niagara while McQuade chipped in 16 points.
The game marked the 142nd career victory for head coach Anthony Bozzella, moving him ahead of Sandie Capifali for first all-time in victories by a Gaels women's basketball mentor. The 11th season head coach also holds the record for most Division I wins by a coach at Iona.
Iona looks to keep its extend its winning streak to three on Sunday, when they travel to Loyola for a 2:30 pm tip.