Iona’s senior guard Lamont “Momo” Jones knocked down what looked like a three from the top of the key with five seconds remaining in the second overtime of Thursday’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference match up against Marist.
That would’ve tied the game at 105.
But the referees reviewed the play and determined Jones’ feet were inside the three-point line, which made the shot a two-point play. That inch cost the Gaels, as they ultimately lost 105-104 to Marist—a team that has only one win since Dec. 19.
Iona was three seconds away from winning the game in the first overtime after junior guard Tre Bowman hit a foul shot with three seconds remaining.
That’s when the Red Fox’s sophomore guard and leading scorer Chavaughn Lewis received the inbound pass, dribbled to the left and heaved a half-court shot with one second left to tie the game at 94, which forced the second overtime. Lewis also made back-to-back shots to give Marist a 105-102 lead in the second overtime before Jones’ shot.
This loss extends the Gaels’ losing streak to three.
“We’ve been finding ways to lose, but this was a new way to lose tonight,” Iona Head Coach Tim Cluess said. “The kid hits a prayer and sends it to overtime and a bounce here and a bounce there and missed foul shots again and unfortunately it cost us the game.”
Iona had chances to win the game during regulation but missed free throws down the stretch hurt the Gaels. Coming into Thursday night’s game Iona was shooting 76.7 percent from the line, which is on pace to break a 26-year-old school record. But they couldn’t make a shot when they needed one the most.
Down 82-80 with 1:33 left to play, junior guard and No. 3 scorer in the MAAC Sean Armand, who’s one of the best sharpshooters in the conference, went to the free-throw line with three shots. He made only one.
About thirty seconds later, the MAAC’s leading scorer, Jones, went to the line for two shots. He made only one.
Then Bowman missed one of his two foul shots at the end of the first overtime, which would have put Iona up by four. Instead his miss opened the door for Lewis’s game-tying, half-court heave.
Jones, who didn’t start the game because of a lingering knee injury, still finished with a game-high 37 points in 45 minutes. Armand was second in points with 18. There were three Gaels with double digit rebounds—sophomore forward David Laury III (13), senior forward Taaj Ridley (12) and junior guard Sean Armand (11).
Iona’s defense continued to struggle. When Cluess was asked about the defensive shortcomings, he said there’s a lack of quickness and trust.
“We aren’t as quick as the other guys we’re playing against. The teams we’re playing against have better offensive players that get by our guys that are a half a step slow,” Cluess said. “And right now that trust factor…is something you have to build over time each other, and you have to trust each other and we haven’t built that yet among our guys.”
Marist’s junior center Adam Kemp used his 6'10", 235 pound frame to dominate the boards. He came up three blocks short of a triple double. He finished with a team-high 29 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks. Two other Marist players—junior forward Jay Bowie and Lewis—each had 21 points.
The first thing Jones said after the game was, “I HATE losing.” He emphasized the “hate,” then he repeated his opening statement.
“I’m not used to losing since being here, so every loss gets me mad,” Armand added.
But Cluess said that feeling of anger is missing from the rest of the locker room.
“They’re feeling sorry for themselves right now, and you’re not going to be any good when you feel sorry for yourself. I would’ve loved to have had to go into the locker room and have to separate guys ‘cause they’re mad…The guys that were here last year are taking it very, very hard and are really upset. But the new guys don’t know what to do…Some care a lot, some don’t care at all and some are still trying to figure it out.”
Iona’s next game will be at home against Rider on Saturday at 7 p.m.
All quotes and information were obtained firsthand.