The race for second place in the MAAC narrowed to Iona and Rider, as Iona defeated St. Peter's 73-59 in Jersey City. Rider won over Marist 80 to 64, while Fairfield won its 15th conference game 68-55 over Siena in Bridgeport.
On "Senior Night" for St. Peter's, Iona broke a 10-10 start with a nine-point run with two inside baskets by junior forward Mike Glover, who finished the game with nine points and 11 rebounds. Freshman Sean Armand came off the bench to do what he does so well, contribute instant offense with a three-point shot, a layup and two free throws to spark the Gaels to a 15-point lead, 31-17, with 7:10 left in the half.
Armand had seven of his eight points in the first half. Saint Peter's Yvon Raymond made two layups, a dunk and a free throw to bring the Peacocks within six at the half, 37-29.
Iona's second shooting guard Kyle Smyth got the Gaels off to a fast start in the second half with two quick three-point shots as Iona went on a 10-2 run, taking a 47-31 lead with 16:39 remaining. Smyth continued to demonstrate an accurate jump shot hitting five of seven from the field, including four three pointers, finishing as the high scorer for the Gaels with 14 points.
Alejo Rodriquez had another strong game for the Gaels. He made three inside field goals to help advance the Gael lead to 21 at 54-33 with 13:26 remaining. Rodriquez, coming back from injuries and offseason surgery on his hip, had eight points and 13 rebounds on the night.
Jermel Jenkins came off the bench to score nine of his 12 points down the stretch to give Iona a 24-point lead with 3:14 to play. Darius Conley had 13 points for Saint Peter's and Jeron Belin was the high scorer in the game adding 15 points and 10 rebounds coming off the bench.
St. Peter's is now 17-12 on the season and falls to fourth place in the MAAC with an 11-6 record. Iona point guard Scott Machado, who went into the game leading the NCAA in assists per game at 7.5, slightly better than the 7.5 of Aaron Johnson of UAB, demonstrated his "Dribble Drive" to the basket, scoring 10 points and adding five assists and seven rebounds on the night.
Iona, now 19-10 on the year and 12-5 in the MAAC, gets set to host Fairfield in New Rochelle on Sunday afternoon.
In front of 5,287 in Bridgeport, Yorel Hawkins led Fairfield with 13 points and seven rebounds and Lyndon Jordan added 10 points off the bench in Fairfield's 68-55 win over Siena. Colin Nickerson added five steals in the Stags' 23rd victory of the season against five losses and a MAAC leading 15-2 conference record.
6'9" Siena senior center Ryan Rossiter, the conference leader in points per game with 18.6 and rebounds per game at 13.4, was held slightly below his season averages with 16 points and 13 rebounds on the night.
In Poughkeepsie, Rider was led in its 80-64 win at Marist by Novar Gadson, who had 24 points and 12 rebounds. The Broncs had four players in double figures on the game with Jonathan Thompson at 16 points, Mike Ringgold with 14 and Danny Stewart adding 13. Marist, finishing out a disappointing season, was led by Sam Prescott with 18 points, Dorvell Carter with 14 and Devin Price contributed 13.
Rider, now 21-9 on the year and 12-5 in the MAAC, is tied with Iona in second place in the conference standings. The Broncs will host St. Peter's at home on Sunday afternoon.
The top of the conference standings after Friday night action:
Saint Peter's 11-6
The top six teams enjoy a bye in the first round of the MAAC tournament, which will be held next weekend in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Ken Kraetzer covers West Point football and Iona basketball for WVOX 1460 and WVOX.com in New Rochelle, NY. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.