ALBANY, NY – The No. 3 seed Iona College men’s basketball team looks to make it three MAAC Championships in the past five seasons on Monday night against No. 4 Siena after using a second half surge to upend No. 2 Saint Peter’s this evening 73-65 this evening.
Trailing 28-24 at the half, the Gaels (21-12) outscored the Peacocks (19-13) 49-37 in the final 20 minutes to win by a final margin of eight points and advance to a fifth straight MAAC Championship Final and sixth in seven years under Head Coach Tim Cluess.
Jordan Washington scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half, shooting 6-for-9 from the field in the period. He also added six rebounds and four steals while shooting 8-for-9 from the free throw line. Deyshonee Much scored all 11 of his points in the first half to go with Jon Severe scoring all 12 of his points in the second half. Sam Cassell Jr. added 10 points and three assists.
Quadir Welton and Trevis Wyche each totaled 18 points for Saint Peter’s and a combined 11 rebounds. The Peacocks controlled a 30-23 rebounding advantage to help produce 10 second chance points.
Saint Peter’s controlled the inside in the first half with a 14-0 advantage in points in the paint led by 12 points from Welton. Iona offset a 33.3 field goal percentage (7-for-21) in the opening 20 minutes by producing eight points off of eight Peacock turnovers.
Saint Peter’s went into the break with a four-point lead after scoring the final six points of the half, including two layups from Trevis Wyche. The first period featured three ties and two lead changes with Iona leading for 9:24 despite trailing at the half.
The Peacocks opened a nine-point advantage within the first two minutes of the second half with a quick 6-1 run. From there, Iona rallied a 17-0 run to go ahead by eight points in just over three minutes. Washington led the group with seven points during the spurt that included three layups.
After Saint Peter’s cut the deficit to two points on Wyche 3-pointer, Iona held the Peacocks to just two points throughout the next five minutes and pushed the lead to eight points after a Rickey McGill trey with 7:34 remaining. The lead grew to as large as 11 points on two occasions for the Maroon & Gold before the team needed free throws down the stretch to close out the win.
Cassell connected on 4-of-4 opportunities from the free throw line in the last minute while Severe added two makes to offset Antown Portley scoring 10 points in 50 seconds for the Peacocks to help cut the margin to four points with 51 seconds remaining. McGill put the final touches on the victory, converting the final field goal on a layup and hauling in the clinching rebound.
Iona looks for a MAAC best 10th conference championship tomorrow evening with a 9:00 pm contest against Siena. The Saints advanced to the final with an 89-85 upset victory against No. 1 seed Monmouth prior to the Gaels’ victory.
Tomorrow’s matchup will be the first time Iona and Siena have met in the championship game since 2000, when the Maroon & Gold came out with an 84-80 win behind a MVP performance from Dyree Wilson. The Gaels also won the only previous time the two teams met in the final, a 90-75 win in 1998.
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