Saturday, March 3, 2012

Iona Plays Gael Basketball in Second Half For Win

Ahead by just two points at halftime in its quarterfinal-round contest against Marist Saturday, Iona coach Tim Cluess knew exactly was wrong and what he needed his top-seeded Gaels to do after the intermission.

"We had some jitters," said Cluess. "Everyone wanted to win and everyone was a little hyped. They all wanted to take things on their own shoulders.

"At halftime we just talked about playing like a team, about working it around more and about tightening things up on defense. We just had to start playing like we normally do."

That was enough to get Iona 24 regular-season victories, the regular-season's MAAC title and the top-seeded position in the post-season tournament.

And, it was more than enough in Saturday's second half for the Gaels to pull away from an improving, talented yet still very youthful Marist team for an 87-63 victory.

Marist got 42 of its 63 points from freshmen with swingman Chavaughn getting 25 (10-of-17 shooting) and point guard Isaiah Morton adding 17.

Iona, though, got its typically balanced offensive attack with four players in double figures, including a game-high 29 by senior forward Mike Glover (11-of-18 shooting), who was all but unstoppable inside against the Red Foxes.

"He's a beast inside, he gets us points in the pant and he came through for us today," said senior point guard Scott Machado, who had 18 points and eight assists against a single turnover.

Guards junior Lamont "Momo" Jones and sophomore Sean Armand added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the winners, how 25-6 overall and creating a case to be an at-large selection for the NCAA's post-season tournament should it fail to win the MAAC's event.

Glover had 19 of his points in the second half, while Machado had 12 of his after the intermission.

When the Gaels were at their best they scored on 14 of 19 possessions to lead by as much as 26 points in the closing minute.

"Now, our job is to pay attention to the scouting report and get ready to play against Fairfield," said Glover. "We'll still not satisfied about where we are right now."

The Gaels, instead, would like to decide their own NCAA tournament fate by winning this event rather than leave things in the hands of a selection committee.

"Fairfield is a good team and they have enough talent to get by even with the loss of a player (guard Derek Needham, who is out with a foot injury," said Cluess. "But we'll play any tempo they want and find a way to win. We'll take what's available to us on offense and try to stop them on defense."

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