The Iona College Gaels went on the road to to defeat East Tennessee State University 83-80 to advance to the College Insider.com Championship game which they will host Wednesday night in New Rochelle, NY against Santa Clara.
The game began with a 14-0 Iona run with Iona forward Mike Glover contributing nine points. The Bucaneers then went on a 30-6 run to take a ten point lead 30-20 with 6:12 left in the half.
Iona trailed by six at the half, but came back to take a 10-point lead, 69-59, in the second on the Buccaneers with 7:53 left in the game. East Tennessee used a full-court press to narrow the Iona lead to 74-70 with 3:07 left.
With just over a minute left, and Iona ahead by just two, 77-75, Iona point guard Scott Machado lofted an ally-oop pass near the basket where Gael forward Michael Glover tipped the ball in and was fouled. Glover made the free throw to give the Gaels a 80-75 lead with 1:08 left to play.
ETSU's Michah Williams made a driving lay-up basket with ten seconds to narrow the score to one at 81-80. Iona inbounded to their best free throw shooter junior Trinity Fields who caught an inbound pass from Machado and was fouled. Fields converted both to give Iona a three-point lead 83-80 and force ETSU to go for a three-point shot which they missed from long range.
Forward Mike Glover led Iona with 33 points, none more important than tipping in the pass from Scott Machado with a minute left. Freshman Sean Armand had the hot hand from the outside making six three point shots among his 20 points.
Iona point guard Scott Machado scored his eight points all down the stretch of the game, passed for eleven assists and landed seven rebounds. Iona guard Trinity Fields had seven points in the game and was put in the game in the final moments to make foul shots which he did making two at the end to extend Iona's lead to three.
Michah Williams led ETSU with 23 points, Adam Sollazzo had 21, Mike Smith 18 and Justin Tubbs 13 points and eight rebounds. East Tennessee finishes their season with a record of 24-12.
The Gaels now 25-11 will head home and get set to host a championship game at their own court—the Hynes Center, against Santa Clara from the Silicon Valley area of California.
The West Coast Conference member Broncos are now 23-14 with their CIT semi-final win Friday night over SMU 72-55 in Dallas. Santa Clara had early round wins in the CIT over Northern Arizona, Air Force and San Francisco.
Previously in the tournament Iona had won at Valparaiso 85-77 and defeated Buffalo 78-63 at home. The Gaels signature win of the year was a 81-77 double overtime victory on November 18th over NCAA "Sweet 16" participant Richmond.
The Gaels have won 12 of their last 13 games, the only defeat in the span was the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship game in which they lost 62-57 against Saint Peter's.
The CIT Championship game between Iona and Santa Clara will be broadcast nationally from New Rochelle, NY at 8 PM EST Wednesday night by Fox College Sports Network.
Ken Kraetzer covers Iona basketball and West Point football for WVOX 1460 AM in New Rochelle, NY. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org