Iona has won its first game of the season Friday afternoon by defeating Western Michigan 94-88 at the 5-Hour Energy Puerto Rico Tip Off in San Juan.
The Gaels, now 1-1 on the year, were led by senior forward Kyle Smyth who finished the afternoon with 24 points and seven rebounds. Smyth connected on seven three-point shots of 13 attempts. He was eight of 14 from the floor on the day.
Senior point guard Scott Machado had another strong game with 17 points and 15 assists. The assist total equals Machado's career best set against Albany in 2009.
Smyth commented about the strong play of his teammate, “Scott Machado, definitely impressive, not the first time I’ve seen it. He’s trying to find the hot hand, to assist and it is great to play with him. It’s not just about the shots."
For the second game in a row, Iona scored 90 or more points and all five Iona starters finished with double-digit scoring. Junior Ra'Shad James contributed 14 points, junior Taaj Ridley had 13 and senior Mike Glover added 12 points. Glover was a perfect five of five from the field. Former Arizona player Lamont Jones had 10 points for the Gaels.
"I was really happy for like 20 minutes with our defense. Scott Machado just gets everyone involved and Kyle Smyth hitting shots from the bleachers," commented Iona Coach Tim Cluess after the game.
The second-year Iona mentor added, "We were playing small at times tonight. It was good defensively, but not so good offensively. We will work on a few things that went poorly today."
Commenting on the early season play of his team Cluess added, "I give my guys a decent amount of freedom, and we have to learn to make good decisions. It’s my job to get them better in the decision making and we know it’s a process and we are working on that.”
The Gaels will now play Maryland of the Atlantic Coast Conference at 2 p.m. EST Sunday, a game which can be seen on ESPNU.
Ken Kraetzer covers Iona basketball for WVOX 1460 in New Rochelle, New York. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
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