POUGHKEEPSIE, NY - The Iona College women's basketball team earned its 12th victory in a row, upending eight-time defending MAAC Champion Marist in a 73-71 thriller Monday evening at the McCann Center. Junior guard Damika Martinez's foul line jumper with 2.9 seconds remaining helped the Gaels (13-2, 6-0 MAAC) snap a 29-game losing streak to the Red Foxes as well as claim first place all alone in the MAAC standings.
The game marked the Red Foxes' first home loss in MAAC play since 2009, and snapped a streak of 36 consecutive conference victories overall. Iona also unseats Marist from first place in the MAAC standings for the first time since the 2004-05 season.
Martinez and sophomore forward Joy Adams each scored a game high 18 points for Iona. Martinez connected on 14 of her points in the second half. Adams pulled down 14 rebounds for her 13th double-double of the season while also dishing out four assists. Sophomore guard Aaliyah Robinson sparked the bench, matching a career high with 17 points, connecting on four second half three pointers. Junior guard Aleesha Powell was the fourth Gaels in double figuresn with 16 points in the win.
The contest included 13 ties and 12 lead changes. In the first half, the team exchanged shots, as Robinson knotted the game at 14 on a layup with 10:06 remaining in the frame. Marist pulled ahead with five straight points but the Gaels battled back as a pair of free throws by Martinez gave the visitors a 20-19 edge.
With the game knotted at 26, Marist took a 30-26 lead on a pair of Casey Dulin free throws with 1:40 left in the period before the Maroon & Gold ended the half on a 6-2 run. Martinez connected on a layup, her only field goal of the half, to even the game at 32 with 39 seconds left, a score the teams took to the locker rooms.
After the teams traded early second half buckets, the Red Foxes went on a 10-0 run, taking a 46-36 lead on a free throw by Madeline Blais with 14:50 remaining. The Gaels fought back, trimming the deficit to five, 49-44, on a layup by senior center Sabrina Jeridore. After Marist responded with a three pointer by Sydney Coffey, Iona got back-to-back threes by Robinson to trim the deficit to two, 54-52, with 9:13 remaining.
With Marist ahead 56-52, a pair of free throws by Powell and another trifecta by Robinson with 7:32 left gave the Gaels their first advantage since the 4:46 mark of the first half. Marist's Emma O'Connor then gave the Red Foxes the lead back, 58-57, with 7:03 remaining.
Powell gave Iona the cushion back on the next trip down the court before back-to-back layups by Marist gave the home team a 62-59 advantage with 5:52 on the clock. Adams connected on a free throw to trim the margin to two, before another Robinson three pointer gave Iona a 63-62 cushion with 5:06 left.
Iona extended the lead to five, 69-64, on a pair of Powell free throws before Marist got a three-point play from Blais with 1:50 remaining to trim the advantage to two. A Martinez layup put Iona ahead four, 71-67, with 1:36 remaining before a pair of O'Connor layups evened the score at 71 with 24 seconds on the clock.
Following an Iona timeout, Martinez got the ball around half court, and after evading the defensive pressure, put a runner in from the foul line for the game winner with three seconds remaining.
Marist was led by Coffey's 17 points while Dulin scored 16 points and had three assists. O'Connor finished with a double-double on 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The Gaels are back in action Saturday for an 11:00 am tipoff at Fairfield.