Iona Gaels Complete Weekend Sweep With 86-68 Win Over Loyola

Ken KraetzerCorrespondent IIJune 2, 2016

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Iona follows Friday night win over Saint Peters with 86 to 68 win Sunday afternoon over Loyola at home in New Rochelle.  Junior Mike Glover led all scorers with 25 points and grabbed ten rebounds as the Iona Gaels (10-6) defeated the Greyhounds (6-9) 86-68 at the Hynes Center. 

Iona led throughout after starting strong and leading 56-37 at the half.  In addition to Glover, three other Gaels were in double figures scoring with guard Rashon Dwight at 18 including 4-of-6 three point shots while Scott Machado and Alejo Rodriquez both added 13. 

Machado was the playmaker for the Gaels with 11 assists. Iona was successful in getting the ball inside to Glover which resulting in 46 points in the paint and 17 off second chances. 

Rashon Dwight has emerged as a third scoring option on the team which should take some pressure off Machado and Glover.  After the game the junior from Newark, NJ said, "Coach has been telling me to have more confidence in my shot, I've been working on it in practice, so I am more comfortable in the games.  I'm just trying to be an extra weapon, if it is not Mike's night or Scott's night, I can help them out." 

Commenting on Iona's strong first half which resulted in a 19 point lead at the half but a challenging second segment, Dwight said, "In first half we played good defense and the offense was strong, in the second half we were lacking in defense and the coach talked to us about it."

Loyola was coming in after MAAC wins against Marist and Manhattan but was  playing without their leading scorer junior Shane Walker.  Senior Jamal Barney scored 21 points coming off the bench while forwards J'hared Hall had 17 points and Erik Etherly grabbed 9 rebounds.

Coach Jimmy Patsos in his seventh season at Loyola, said, "It was tough match up with out Shane Walker, Iona is playing well, he hurt his arch.  J'hared Hall has stepped it up. We have a young team, it is tough to learn on the fly."  

Iona's Mike Glover, a native of the Bronx NY has been the MAAC's leading scorer averaging 21.1 points per game and is the conference second leading rebounder with 10.5 boards per game coming into the Loyola game.  This was his ninth double-double in his last eight games with the exception being this week at Siena. 

The 6'7" 215 pound forward has climbed to No. 4 in the nation in field goal percentage shooting over 65 percent highlighted by converting 18 of his last 19 shots from the field against Siena and Saint Peter's before missing his last shot of the game Friday night. Against Canisius in December was Glover's breakout game scoring 39 points, the second most by a Gael ever at the Hynes Center.

Junior Scott Machado from Queens, NY went into the game leading the nation in assists averaging 8.2 per game so far this year which if he keeps it up will be an Iona season record.  The current Iona season record for assists is 6.5 per game set by Glenn Grant in 1988-89. 

This was Iona's second strong win at home on the weekend after defeating Saint Peter's Friday night 70 to 52.  Earlier in the week the Gaels lost by five 73-67 to conference leader Siena in Albany.  Dwight said, "We started out slow, the 0-3 start really helped us, we are continuing to get better.  We are going to use this weekend as a stepping stone." 

Iona coach Tim Cluess said, "Rach had a great game, he made some shots, he was aggressive, he made some stops, he has been a great addition to our starting lineup the past few games.  He works hard every day in practice, he has gotten healthy, that is why he has been playing better."   

Singled out for praise was sophomore guard Kyle Smyth, who has playing hard, taking shots from opponents while trying to drawing fouls.  Dwight said, "He sacrifices his body in the paint, he should have been a football player."

Coach Cluess said, "He can read what is going on, but is tough enough to take it, because you are going to get hit hard and go down, he is tough enough to take it, I am very proud of him.

"We played two very good teams, you want to win on your home floor, which we did.  We can look at different parts of the game, and understand what we did well in each one. 

"Against Saint Peters we played hard in the first half but played really good in the second half.  Today we played well in the first half then had a bit of a let up in the second. We have to give them credit, they played small so they could beat you off the dribble, we struggled a bit against that." 

On the play of forward Mike Glover, coach Cluess said, "On the offensive end he has been tremendous, he is a guy who plays with so much energy and effort, he has great touch and feel for what is going on around him, he is a tough guard for people.  On defense he has a lot of room for improvement ahead of him, he needs to be doing it on both ends, we are working on that with him."

The Gaels reached a special milestone Friday night against Saint Peter's when they recorded the 1,000th win in the history of the basketball program.  Basketball began for Iona with the 1940-41 season and program maintains a .566 winning percentage. 

The Gaels now 4-1 in the MAAC have a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the balance of their season, they have their next game Friday night at Rider.