Iona (7-6) earned its ticket to the NCAA last season by winning December games on the road. This season, the Gaels have won at Georgia (5-7) and finished off 2012 with a New Year's Eve 93-74 win at St. Bonaventure (7-5).
Iona's junior forward Sean Armand had another big three-point shooting day shooting 7-14 from behind the arc and finishing with 27 points. Senior guard Lamont "Momo" Jones had a strong shooting game---7-11 from the field and 3-5 on three-pointers---finishing with 23 points and 5 assists.
Senior forward Taaj Ridley has picked up his game noticeably this season playing 38 minutes against the Bonnies, scoring 13 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. Ridley also had 4 assists and 1 block. Last season Ridley was a starter, but saw limited minutes because of ineffective play. This season he is playing like a leader with new maturity.
Iona's new center-forward---sophomore David Laury---was limited to 27 minutes and 13 points because he picked up his fourth foul with 5:09 left in the second half. He left the contest with the Gaels leading 81-64. Laury is from East Orange, NJ and played last season at Lamar State. The 6'8" 240 pounder joined the Gaels lineup after his transfer become eligible at the end of the first semester. So far he has shown good hands at rebounding, physical play under the basket and a scoring touch inside.
The Gaels jumped ahead 22-15 on a seven-point-run thanks to consecutive jumpers by Armand, followed by a pair of free throws made by Jones. Iona extended their lead to 12 points at 34-22 on a move to the basket by sophomore guard Tavon Sledge with 4:08 left in the first half. St. Bonaventure senior forward Demitrius Conger made a three-pointer in the last minute to make the score at the half 40-31 Iona.
A jumper by the St. Bonaventure junior forward Marquise Simmons made it a two-point game less than three minutes into the second half. Another three-pointer by Armand sparked a 20-7 Iona run to give the Gaels a 62-42 lead with 11:45 left to play in regulation. Another three-pointer by Armand at 7:37 gave Iona a 20 point lead at 78-58.
Sledge, the former Iowa State freshman who has looked good handling the ball so far this season, had just 6 points on 3-7 shooting from the field in 28 minutes.
Another bright spot for the Gaels---as they reach the start of the regular conference schedule---has been the play of true freshman guard A.J. English who shot 3-4 on three-pointers finishing with 11 points and 2 assists in 17 minutes.
Demitrius Conger led the Bonnies with eight rebounds and 26 points. Guard Charlon Kloof had 8 assists and 7 points.
Iona finishes up its three-game road trip at Siena College (2-11) in Albany, NY Friday night with a 7:00 p.m. EST start to be broadcast nationally on ESPN3.
Ken Kraetzer covers Iona basketball and West Point football.