SACRAMENTO, CA – The No. 14 seed Iona College men’s basketball team cut a 27-point second half deficit down to 13 points in the final stages of regulation, however, No. 3 Oregon was able to earn a 93-77 victory earlier this afternoon at the Golden 1 Center in the First Round of the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament.
Senior Jordan Washington led the effort for the Gaels (22-13) with a double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds. Classmate Sam Cassell Jr. came off the bench for 16 points to help the Maroon & Gold post a 25-11 advantage in points off the bench. Deyshonee Much scored all 15 of his points in the second half. Taylor Bessick added five blocks in reserve duty while Jon Severe netted nine points and three rebounds.
The Ducks (29-5) placed four players in double-figures, led by a game-high 24 points from Tyler Dorsey to go along with five rebounds. Dillon Brook and Payton Pritchard each scored 18 points with Pritchard adding three steals. Jordan Bell shot 7-of-8 from the field towards 17 points and 12 rebounds.
After Oregon jumped ahead by 11 points less than eight minutes into the contest at 23-12, a 16-6 run from Iona brought the Gaels to within one point at 29-28 following a pair of free throws from Schadrac Casimir. The Ducks quickly turned in a run of their own to end the final eight minutes of the half by outscoring the Maroon & Gold 26-9 to create a 55-37 halftime margin.
Oregon shot 63.6 percent (21-for-33) from the floor in the first half as Bell and Dorsey combined for 29 points. Washington and Cassell combined for 24 points to lead the Gaels. The Ducks also owned a 20-14 rebounding margin to go along with advantages in points in the paint, 34-10, and fast break points, 10-0.
The Ducks opened the second half with 10 of the first 11 points to create a 27-point lead less than two minutes into the half. After Iona brought the deficit back below 20 points, Oregon once again increased the advantage to 26 points at 76-50 with 13:07 remaining.
With the Maroon & Gold trailing by 23 points, Much hit three straight 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to bring Iona within 16 points. After back-to-back layups from Severe, Much hit another trey to bring Oregon’s lead to 13 points and followed up a Brooks 3-pointer with his fifth of the half to keep Iona within 13 points.
A Casimir layup brought the margin to 13 points for the third time within two minutes as Iona trailed 88-75 with 3:40 left. The Gaels managed just two more points, a Washington layup, in the final three minutes while the Ducks added five more to secure the final scored of 93-77.
Iona outscored Oregon 40-38 after surrendering a season-high 55 first half points. Much led all scorers with 15 points in the final 20 minutes, shooting 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. Bessick helped keep Oregon to 46.7 percent (14-for-30) shooting from the floor with four blocks in the period.
The Gaels conclude an eighth straight 20-win season, with seven coming under Head Coach Tim Cluess. Today’s NCAA appearance was the fourth in seven years for the program.