Iona Wins Ninth Straight, Plays Saint Peter's in MAAC Final for NCAA Bid
Tim Cluess and his Iona Gaels had a stretch in the middle of their conference schedule in which they lost four games by a total of 11 points.
It looked like a promising 7-1 start to the conference season would fade away.
Then the Gaels won their last six conference games and dominated the "Bracketbuster" Game at Liberty by 20, to finish 21-10 on the year and second in the MAAC at 13-5.
Now, the Gaels have won two games in the MAAC Tournament with wins Friday night against Siena 94-64 and Rider 83-59.
Now, the Gaels have a chance to win the conference title and a chance to win a bid into the NCAA tournament on Monday night in the MAAC title game in Bridgeport, CT.
Of course, Saint Peter's is a remarkable story themselves with wins over Canisius Saturday and a monumental 62-48 win over Fairfield on the Stags' home court in the first game on Sunday.
Iona went out to a fast 11-4 against Rider on two three-point shots from senior guard Rashon Dwight, an inside basket and foul shot by junior forward Mike Glover and a lay-up by sophomore guard Kyle Smyth.
With 8:52 left, Rashon Dwight made another three-point shot to put the Gaels ahead by ten at 27-17. Rashon had 14 points in the half, leading Iona.
Brandon Peen of Rider made the last score of the half to bring the Broncs within eight at 38-30.
In the second half, Iona went on a run with 15:05 left on a three-point shot by Rashon Dwight, two by Jermel Jenkins and an inside play by Mike Glover to go up by 14 points at 58-44. Later, the Gaels went on a 10-1 run on a three-point shot by Jermel Jenkins, six inside points and a foul shot by sophomore Chris Pelcher to take a 78-57 lead.
Coach Tim Cluess then cleared his bench and the final was a 24-point margin, in a 83-59 win.
Jermel Jenkins came off the bench to score 20 points for Iona on six three point shots and 7 of 13 from the field.
Rashon Dwight had 19 points and Mike Glover had 12 along with eight rebounds.
Scott Machado had seven points and 12 assists.
Novar Gadson led Rider with 19 points, while Justin Robinson had 16 points and a number of excellent defensive plays for the Broncs.
Iona plays Saint Peter's for the MAAC Tournament title and the all important appearance in the NCAA tournament tonight at 7 PM in Bridgeport, CT.
Ken Kraetzer covers Iona basketball and West Point football for WVOX 1460 AM in New Rochelle, NY. Reach him on email@example.com.
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