LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ - The Iona College men's basketball team dropped a 67-62 decision at Rider in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action at Alumni Gymnasium. The Broncs (11-9, 6-2 MAAC) held the Gaels (12-7, 6-2 MAAC) to just six points over the final ten minutes of the second half to earn the hard fought victory.
The Maroon & Gold was held to season-lows in field goals (19), field goal percentage (33.9%) and three-point field goal percentage (20.8%) while matching season lows in points (62) and assists (7). The Gaels slipped out of first place and stand a game behind Niagara (7-1) and tied with Rider and Loyola (6-2) one game shy of the midway point of the conference season. The loss snapped a six-game winning streak.
Iona led by as many as 11 points on junior Sean Armand's three-pointer with 7:16 to play in the first half. Rider junior Tommy Pereira hit back to back three-point field goals from the corner to shave the deficit to five points just 32 seconds later. After a second straight Gael miss, the Broncs capped an 8-0 run and trailed 25-22 with 6:01 to play. In total, Rider outscored Iona 21-5 over the final seven minutes of the frame and led by five at the break.
The lead was short lived in the second half as three free throws by senior Lamont Jones and a transition layup by sophomore David Laury evened the score at 35-35 just over a minute into the half. Neither team could pull away. The Broncs led by four points at 16:05. Iona took its largest lead of the second half at 56-50 on a Laury jumper with 10:09 to play. The Gaels' offense just stopped at that point.
In the final 10 minutes, Iona shot 1-of-11 from the field before a Jones layup with less than three seconds to play. The Gaels had three turnovers and shot 2-of-6 from the free throw line in the span. Meanwhile, the Broncs also struggled to put the ball in the net but scored just enough to outlast their visiting counterpart. Rider was 6-for-13 from the field, 5-for-11 from the line with three turnovers of its own.
Down three with less than a minute to play, Iona had the ball with a chance to tie. As he was coming around a screen, Jones appeared to be bumped by Stewart and fumbled the ball out of bounds for a costly turnover with 24 ticks on the clock. Rider gave the Gaels another chance as Myles missed both free throw attempts on the next possession. Myles redeemed himself with a hustle tip-in off his own miss that put the Broncs ahead by an insurmountable five points.
Jones led the Gaels with 20 points with the help of a 10-for-11 effort from the charity stripe. Armand added 15 points and had a team-high three assists. Sophomore Tavon Sledge had a career-high 14 points including nine in the second half. Laury posted his third double-double of the year with 10 points and a season-high 17 rebounds. He added three blocks and two steals in the loss.
Rider had four players in double-figures led by Pereira's 14 points. Junior Daniel Stewart had a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double.
The Gaels return home Friday night when they host Saint Peter's at 7:00 pm at the Hynes Center.
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