LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ - The Iona College men's basketball team overcame a five-point half time deficit and a poor shooting first half in a 75-62 win over Rider in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play at Alumni Gymnasium. The Gaels (21-6, 13-3 MAAC) opened the final 20 minutes with a decisive 19-3 run, including 18 straight points, to claim the win over the Broncs (11-17, 8-8 MAAC).
With Loyola Maryland's loss at Marist, the Gaels claimed sole possession of first place in the MAAC standings. Iona's magic number to clinch at least a tie for the MAAC regular season championship is one with two games to play.
With the Broncs (11-17, 8-8 MAAC) keying on the Gaels' top two scorers, senior Mike Glover and junior Lamont Jones, the squad's three, four and five scorers picked up the slack. Sophomore Sean Armand drained seven three-pointers and scored 22 points to lead all scorers. Senior Scott Machado posted 16 points and nine assists and junior Taaj Ridley posted 11 of his 13 points and all six rebounds in the second half. Glover and Jones each had 11 points as Iona had five double-digit scorers in the contest.
Rider took a six-point, 18-12 lead at the 13:41 on a Jonathan Thompson breakaway dunk. Armand answered 18 seconds later with a three-pointer that sparked a 12-0 Maroon & Gold run over the next 3:34. Senior Randy Dezouvre's breakaway dunk put the score at 24-18 with 9:49 remaining. Rider bounced back with an 11-5 run to knot the score at 29-29 at the 3:54 mark. The Broncs led by as many as seven points with 61 ticks left before a Jones' layup cut the deficit to five headed into the break.
After Rider scored three of the first four points of the second half to regain the seven point advantage, Iona rattled off 18 straight points - its longest stretch of the season and led 51-41 with 11:52 remaining. Iona stretched the lead to 15 on Glover layup with 8:54 left. The Broncs cut the margin to eight points, 65-57 at the 4:21 mark but would not get any closer. Iona scored 10 of the next 12 points before a Thompson three-ball on the home team's final possession and came away with a 75-62 victory.
The Gaels shot just 41.5% for the game and 37.5 in the first half. Iona turned up the defensive effort in the second half, limiting the Broncs to 8-for-24 (33.3%) from the field. Rider converted just two of their first 15 field goals in the frame. The teams matched each other with 34 rebounds a piece. Iona had 18 assists to just eight turnovers while the Broncs had 13 helpers and 19 giveaways.
Rider's Anthony Myles led his squad with 21 points. Thompson and Brandon Penn posted 10 a piece. Rookie Junior Fortunat had nine boards.
The Gaels completed their final game away from home in the regular season, capping a 14-5 record in 19 contests. The 14 wins match Murray State for the NCAA lead in the statistic.
Iona hosts WAC-leading Nevada on Saturday (Feb. 18) at the Hynes Center in a Sears Bracketbusters contest at 4:00 pm on nationally-televised ESPN2.
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