Fairfeld Coach Ed Cooley has talked quite a bit about reaching the MAAC Final on his home court. It could happen as both Fairfield and Iona looked impressive closing out the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference quarterfinals in Bridgeport, CT Saturday night.
Fairfield defeated Marist 55-31 behind the offense of sophomore guard Derek Needham who had 22 points and added six steals on the night. Needham shot 8 of 17 from the field and made 4 of 9 three-point attempts. Fairfield held a 27-13 lead at the half although only shooting 38.5 percent and finishing at 40.7 percent for the entire game.
Iona had a dominating performance from junior transfer Mike Glover who had 31 points in their 94-64 win over Siena. Glover demonstrated a powerful inside game making 12 of 18 field goals, many of which were dunks or lay-ups from very close in. The Bronx native added 7 of 9 from the line and registered a double-double by virtue of 11 rebounds.
In earlier action, Saint Peter's defeated Loyola 70-60 in overtime and in the late game Rider defeated Canisius 79 to 64. This sets up match-ups for Sunday afternoon semi-finals in Bridgeport of Saint Peter's (18-13) playing Fairfeld (24-6) and Rider (23-9) taking on Iona (21-10). This follows the tournament seedings.
Iona went out to as much as a 10 point first half lead as Glover scored 16 of Iona's first half 37 points. Sophomore Kyle Smyth showed the Bridgeport crowd his highly accurate three-point shot in making two of three, three pointers. Glover also had eight rebounds as the Gaels out rebounded Siena 19-13. At the break, Iona held a 37-31 lead.
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In the second half, Iona went on an offensive tear scoring 57 points. Early on Siena cut the deficit to three on a jumper by freshman Rakeem Brookins, but then the Gaels went on a 12-0 run lead by a jumper by Glover, a three-point shot by point guard Scott Machado and a lay-up by senior guard Rashon Dwight.
With 12 minutes left, Iona went on another run started by two three-point shots from Kyle Smyth, followed by a dunk and layup by Glover to give the Gaels a 68-47 lead with 10:22 to go. Siena did not seriously challenge after that.
A tough last game for Seina senior Ryan Rossiter, the MAAC Conference Player of the Year, who finished with 11 points and six rebounds.
More action at the MAAC Tournament Sunday afternoon as Saint Peters and Rider seek to upset the two top seeds, Fairfield and Iona for berths in Monday nights title game and the opportunity to earn a trip to the NCAAs.
Ken Kraetzer covers Iona College basketball and West Point football for WVOX 1460 AM and WVOX.com in New Rochelle, NY. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.