NEW ROCHELLE, NY - The Iona College men's basketball team used an incredible 31-0 run in the second half to defeat Saint Peter's 98-61 in its regular season finale on Senior Day at the Hynes Center. The Gaels (24-6, 15-3 MAAC) earned their 15th Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference victory matching its highest win total in school history (1997-98).
Prior to the game, the Maroon & Gold honored the contributions of its six seniors: Randy Dezouvre, Trinity Fields, Mike Glover, Jermel Jenkins, Scott Machado and Kyle Smyth. Smyth - a red shirt senior - will return for the 2012-13 campaign but was honored with Fields, Jenkins and Machado whom he entered the program with as a freshman.
In similar fashion to its previous four wins during the current five-game win streak, Iona fought off a scrappy Peacock squad through the first 25 minutes. Junior Lamont Jones' three-pointer at the 15:36 mark gave the Maroon & Gold a lead for good. The Gaels nursed a single-digit lead for the remainder of the frame. After three Jermel Jenkins' three-pointers on three straight Iona possessions, the home team posted its largest lead of the half at 26-17. Saint Peter's fought back and cut the deficit to three points but that was as close as they would get. The Gaels held a 40-35 advantage heading into halftime.
Saint Peter's Chris Burke hit a layup with 15:42 to go to make the score 50-43 in favor of the Gaels. It would be the last point the visitors would score for the next seven minutes. Iona exploded for 31 straight points, a mark that is unconfirmed but believed to be a school record. During the stretch, the Gaels shot 11-for-13 from the field, 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and 6-for-9 from the free throw line and had just one turnover. Iona limited the Peacocks to 0-for-4 shooting with 11 turnovers over the seven minute period. By the time the epic run was over, the Maroon & Gold led by 38, its largest lead of the contest.
Jones led the Gaels with 24 points on 9-for-13 shooting and four three-pointers. He had four assists and no turnovers. Jenkins posted a career-high 21 points came in his final home game. He drained seven three-point field goals matching his own career-best and his own Hynes Center record that he shares with teammate Jones. Glover and sophomore Sean Armand each had 14 points apiece. Machado recorded nine points and 12 assists, just shy of a double-double.
Iona out shot Saint Peter's 59.4%-49.0% and held a 35-23 rebounding advantage. The Gaels recorded 26 assists, its 16th game with 20 or more and seventh with 25 or more.
The Peacocks' Darius Conley led the way with 12 points. Yvon Raymond added 11 while rookie Lamin Fulton posted 10 in the loss.
The Gaels are back in action next weekend at the 2012 MAAC Championships. Iona faces the winner of Friday night's first round matchup between Marist and Saint Peter's. The top-seeded Maroon & Gold tip off in the quarterfinal round on Saturday (Mar. 3) at 4:30 pm. To purchase tickets through Iona, visit www.IonaConnection.com or through the tournament's official website, www.maacachusetts.com.