With four minutes left to play in a two-point game, junior guard Sean Armand missed a three. The ball hit the rim and hovered in the air until junior guard Tre Bowman dunked the rebound through.
The Iona crowd erupted into “oohs and ahs” after the top-10esque play. Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos was livid over his team’s lack of effort getting the rebound and was called for a technical. Senior guard Lamont “Momo” Jones and Bowman are raising their arms, signaling for the crowd to get louder. The Iona team is chest bumping and high-fiving each other. Queen’s song “We Will Rock You” bounced around the walls of the Hynes Center.
Momentum is now sitting on the Iona bench, and that is where it remained for the rest of the game. The Gaels never relinquished the lead from that point on and won 90-86, securing at worst a sixth seed in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which avoids the play-in game.
“That won us the game,” Jones said afterwards. “We haven’t had a play like that all season.”
After losing the last three games and six of the last seven games by a combined 11 points, Iona head coach Tim Cluess said, “We needed that electrifying play.”
Jones, the nation's No. 2 scorer, had a game-high 35 points, but Armand, the second half of the most prolific scoring duo this year in Division I (along with Jones), was held to just eight points as his recent struggles continued.
So it was poetic justice that Bowman dunked Armand’s miss, symbolizing other players on Iona stepping up during their captain’s cold streak.
Cluess applauded his two bigs—sophomore forward David Laury, who finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, and senior forward Taaj Ridley, who finished with 15 points and four rebounds—for stepping up as well.
“David [Laury] played much better today,” Cluess said, “And Taaj [Ridley] battled underneath. We needed those two in this game against their size.”
Early on in this game, Iona threw away a 15-point lead with ill-advised passes and poor ball security, resulting in eight turnovers and 10 Loyola points.
The Greyhounds scored 10 unanswered points to close out the half and tie the game at 36. This seemed eerily similar to recent games for the Gaels.
The second half was back and forth with no lead extending beyond six points.
That was until Bowman’s dunk, which sparked an 11-6 Iona run, giving the Gaels a 82-72 lead with two minutes to play.
Loyola cut the lead to five, 82-77, but with just 56 seconds left on the clock, the Greyhounds had to start fouling to preserve the precious seconds.
The No. 3 free-throw shooting team in the nation welcomed the opportunity to shoot from line, converting 6-8 free throws inside the one minute mark.
“They could’ve layed down at any time, but they continued to fight,” Cluess said. “I’ve never seen a team work as hard as they do…They never felt sorry for themselves.”
Iona will take on Manhattan this Sunday at 2 p.m. for this year’s senior day.
All quotes and information were obtained firsthand.
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