Iona's junior guard Damika Martinez is almost sure to be named the MAAC's women's Player of the Year later today, but when she was held in check for much of the second half of the Gaels' quarterfinal tournament game against Monmouth Friday there was a more-than capable teammate there to step up.
That would be sophomore forward Joy Adams who, in almost every other season, would be a major candidate herself for the top individual honors.
This year, though, Adams has done most of the dirty work inside, ranking third nationally in rebounding, while Martinez has lit up scoreboards to average a MAAC-best 24.5 points per contest.
But against the Hawks, it was Adams who showed she is far more than any band's second fiddle on the offense end, far greater than any understudy.
On Friday, it was Adams who took over when Monmouth put a scare into top-seeded Iona when it went on a 10-1 run early in the second half to take a 46-42 lead with 11 minutes remaining.
The Gaels closed it to two on Aleesha Powell's two foul shots, and, then, Adams scored 12 of her team's next 14 points, either from whithin the paint where she does or best work, or from the foul line.
When Adams' work was done the Gaels had a 58-50 lead and were well on their way to a 71-56 victory over Monmouth to advance to Sunday's 11 a.m. semifinal round contest against the winner of today's Quinnipiac-Canisius contest.
Adams finished with 29 points and 16 rebounds while Martinez, who had 16 in the first half, finished with 23.
"It is a huge luxury to have players like Damika and Joy to pick us up when we need it," said Iona coach Billi Godsey, whose team is now 26-4 overall.
Although Monmouth finishes at 8-25, it not only has an extremely strong nucleus of 11 returning current freshmen and sophomores, but caused regular-season co-champion Iona problems in all three meetings this year.
The Gaels needed a last-second shot to win at Monmouth, 60-59, in mid-February and only won by nine in the first meeting on the Gaels' home court.
"We gave it our best shot and when we made a little bit of a run and got that lead (in the second half), I thought it might actually happen," said Monmouth coach Jenny Palmateer. "But I think at that point we ran out of gas a little.
"Iona is a team that can take advantage of you when you're tired, and take advantage of you in a hurry."