Sophomore forward Mike Glover, scored 17 points and junior Trinity Fields came off the bench to score a career high 16 points, as the visiting Iona Gaels defeated Valparaiso in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
Glover shot 8-10 from the field while recording his 19th double-double of the season for the Gaels from New Rochelle, NY. The game was also a career night for Trinity Fields. He played sparingly down the stretch for Iona, but made several key plays at the end of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship game loss to Saint Peter's.
Other Gaels in double figure points in the game, were Rashon Dwight, scoring 14 highlighted by 5-6 free throws made, and point guard Scott Machado, adding 11 points along with six assists.
Freshman Sean Armand started the game in place of sophomore Kyle Smyth who was injured in the second half of the MAAC Final loss to Saint Peter's. Armand, noted as a guard in the lineup, is really a swing player, who might also be considered a small forward, made a great contribution of 14 points on 5-9 from the field and three three-point shots made.
For Valparaiso, guard Jay Harris came off the bench to score 20 points on 7-14 from the field, including four three-point shots. Another guard Howard Little, had 15 points and forward Cory Johnson added 14 points. Guard Ryan Broekhoff led Valpo with eight rebounds and four assists, finishing their season 23-12. Iona went out to a 13-5 lead in the game with sharp shooting Sean Armand, making three jump shots including two three-point shots.
Iona extended the lead to 28-15 with eight minutes left with inside points from Michael Glover and Trinity Fields, followed by a three-point shot from Fields, a jumper by Randy Dezoure, and free throws by Rashon Dwight. Mike Glover and Alejo Rodriquez combined for six inside points late in the half as the Gaels maintained a fast pace to close out the first half with an eleven point lead at 41-32. Early in the second half, Valpo's Jay Harris made jump shots on consecutive trips down the floor to get the Crusaders back within six at 45-39. Later, Trinity Fields made four free throws and a layup to keep Iona ahead by twelve at 62-50 with 8:49 left.
Glover then followed with a lay-up and two jump shots, while Fields added a three to give the Gaels a fourteen point lead at 71-57. In the stretch, Valpo forced Iona to the foul line where the Gaels made 11 of 15 free throws in the final 2:18 to hold on to the post season win. After one of their worst shooting nights in the Saint Peter's Championship Game, Iona had a great night against Valpo shooting 58.3 percent from the field and 46.7 percent on three point shots. Defensively, they held Valpo to 45.1 percent shooting and 25.9 percent on three-point attempts.
Tournament officials announced before the start of the game, that the winner would receive one of four byes into the quarterfinals. The Gaels' next game will be played either Monday (Mar. 20) or Tuesday (Mar. 21) at a yet to be determined site. Perhaps Iona will be given a home game. Stay tuned here.
Certainly, this post-season win for Iona is satisfying to the team—especially after coming off a highly disappointing MAAC final loss. The team showed its depth, weathering the loss of the consistent shooting Kyle Smyth. Sean Armand stepped up to the starting role, and Trinity Fields had one of the most memorable nights of his college career. Although his playing time has been limited this season, Fields has been a leader of the team. It is great to see a dedicated player have a proud performance helping prolong the season for his team.
Ken Kraetzer covers Iona basketball and West Point football for WVOX 1460 AM and WVOX.com based in New Rochelle, NY. He can be reached on email@example.com