Sunday, February 1, 2009

Youthful Iona Not Ready for Prime Time

The Iona men's team, fresh from a near-upset of league-unbeaten Siena in its previous game (Jan. 26), recently showed the downside of the proverbial roller-coaster of wide swings often associated with youthful teams.

The Gaels suffered a surpsing 67-64 loss to Saint Peter's, on Iona's home court no less, on Saturday (Jan. 31).

The Peacocks, now 3-8 in MAAC play, entered the game tied for the fewest number of conference wins.

And, maybe, it wasn't all Iona's doing. Saint Peter's also has a nice group of talented players and is probably the youngest team in the conference. So, it's just as easy to credit the Peacocks for finding the up-swing on its roller coaster ride this season.

Saint Peter's 6-2 sophomore guard Wesley Jenkins certainly played beyond his years in the contest, finishing with a game-high 30 points that included 7-of-8 shooting from beyond the three-point stripe.

Teammates 6-7 center Ryan Bacon and guard Nick Leon, both also sophomores, each added 14 points.

Iona had a 10-point lead with under six minutes to play, and an 8-point edge with under four minutes left.

But from the 4:19 mark, when the Gaels held a 61-53 lead, St. Peter's sprinted in with a 14-3 edge in scoring the rest of the way.

Jenkins led the late surge with back-to-back treys to close it within 61-59 and, then, added a free throw to make it 61-60. When Bacon got a hoop after that, St. Peter's led, 62-61, with 2:32 remaining.

Iona didn't score a field goal in the game's final 4:19 with its only points coming on 3-of-6 shooting from the foul line.

The Peacocks, a small but quick team, likely matched up well with Iona's freshman guard Scott Machado, who is the front-runner to be the MAAC's top freshman this season.

But against Saint Peter's Machado played like a freshman, making just 1-0f-6 shots (3total points) and committing seven turnovers.

Iona had entered the week with five victories in its previous six MAAC games, but now have back-to-back losses (to Siena, and Saint Peter's) and have falline into a tie for sixth place in the conference standings with Manhattan, each with 5-6 league records.


Iona got 41 minutes of playing time in the game from seniors, 52 from juniors, 36 from sophomores and 71 from freshmen.

Saint Peter's only has one senior on its roster (Ismaila Traore), who played 10 minutes in the contest. It also used just one junior in the game (Akeem Gooding), who played 24 minutes. Sophomores played 130 minutes with freshmen 36 minutes.

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