ALBANY, NY – Back-to-back. The Iona College men’s basketball program notched a second straight berth to the NCAA Tournament and a MAAC best 10th conference championship with an 87-86 overtime victory against Siena this evening at the Times Union Center.
A layup from E.J. Crawford with 28 seconds remaining in the extra period broke the 16th and final tie of the Championship Final to give the Gaels (22-12) an 85-83 advantage. Nico Clareth missed an attempt from beyond the arc for the Saints (17-17) with six seconds left as Jordan Washington pulled in a rebound to hold off a second chance opportunity.
After hauling in the defensive board, Washington pushed the Maroon & Gold ahead by four points with a pair of free throws with less than two seconds remaining. Marquis Wright hit a distance 3-pointer on the next possession to bring Siena within one-point, however, time expired with the attempt as Iona celebrated the MAAC Championship and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Washington, named the Championship MVP following the game, posted a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds that included a 7-of-8 performance from the free throw line. Four others joined the senior in double-figures, as Deyshonee Much totaled 18 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Rickey McGill added 14 points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal while Crawford finished with 12 points and three rebounds. Schadrac Casimir went 4-for-4 from the charity stripe towards 10 points to close out all five starters scoring double-digits.
Siena controlled the early momentum, building a lead to as large as eight points at 23-15 following a Kadeem Smithen layup. The Gaels quickly reversed that deficit and created their own eight-point lead with a 17-1 run capped off by a Crawford trey.
The Saints put forth the third long run of the half, ending the first half ahead 37-35 after a 13-3 spurt. Siena helped create the halftime margin with a 29-16 rebounding advantage, however, only turned the spread into an 11-6 lead in second chance points. Washington and Wright each led their respective teams with 10 points each.
Iona regained the lead in the second half less than three minutes in as Casimir knocked down a trey to put the Gaels ahead 45-42. A McGill 3-pointer pushed the margin to 57-48 with less than 12 minutes left before an 11-0 run gave Siena the lead again.
In the final 3:11 of the game, the score was tied three different times and was tied for the final time in regulation on two free throws from Brett Bisping. McGill’s winning shot attempt from beyond the arc bounced off the backboard with two seconds left and resulted in the extra five minutes.
The extra period featured five ties as Iona went 4-for-5 from the field and Siena shot 4-of-7. Both teams went perfect from the free throw line in the final five minutes, however, the Gaels added two more attempts to make the difference.
Iona played in its fifth straight MAAC Championship Final tonight, making it a third championship in that stretch. The Gaels move on to a 12th NCAA Tournament in program history and fourth since 2012.
The NCAA Selection Show will air this Sunday on CBS at 6:00 pm ET.