The Iona Gaels (6-1) are getting used to performing well on the road, winning two of three in Puerto Rico to start the season, and now completing their annual western New York State trip with a dominating 98-62 win at Niagara (3-5).
Iona senior power forward Mike Glover had another headline performance going 7 of 11 from the field and 13 of 16 from the foul line to score a game high total of 27 points. Glover who is normally double teamed under the boards added six rebounds.
A bunch of long bounces off the rim at Niagara's Gallagher Center were gathered in by Iona guards. Surprisingly, point guard Scott Machado led Iona with seven rebounds while guard Jermel Jenkins gathered five boards coming off the bench. Machado who went into the game leading the NCAA in assists per game, added 12 more assists to his total for the year.
Lamont "Momo" Jones had 20 points, his highest scoring total for Iona since transferring in from Arizona over the summer. The junior guard made four three point shots on the afternoon. Taaj Ridley, the second junior transfer starting for Iona this year at the four spot had 12 points and five rebounds.
Sophomore swing-man Sean Armand had a hot day, as he can do on occasion coming off the bench, shot a perfect four of four from the field, including a pair of three point shots to score 10 points in 11 minutes.
For the Purple Eagles, Juan'ya Green scored 25, including four three point shots. Antoine Mason had 12 points.
Sunday MAAC Results:
In other Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Sunday action: Manhattan (5-4) is now 2-0 in the MAAC with a 68-42 win over St.Peter's, and Marist (3-5) won its first in the MAAC 95-75 over Rider(1-8). Fairfield (5-4) earned their second conference win 68-59 at Canisius (1-5). Saturday Loyola of Maryland improved to (6-1) on the year with a 66-59 win over Siena (2-5).
Iona keeps on traveling this week:
The Gaels have now won the second of their eight straight December games on the road. They will return home briefly to New Rochelle then head to the Rocky Mountains for a Wednesday night date with the Denver Pioneers. Playing a Sunbelt opponent in Colorado may seem a bit unusual, but that is the way conference alignments work. Geography makes little difference.
The Pioneers are a good team now at 6-1 on the year with an Real Time Sports RPI at 9th in the nation. They have impressive home wins over Southern Mississippi 59-52 on Nov. 17th, St. Mary's 70-58 on Nov. 23rd and an opening game win over Portland State 69-61. On the road they have wins over Texas A&M CC 65-58 and Utah State 67-54. Their lone loss on the season was in the Pac 12 at California 80-59. Their last game was a Saturday night home win over Texas Southern 62-46.
Leading Denver in scoring is guard Brian Stafford at 15.4 points per game. Forward Royce O'Neale gathers 4.6 rebounds per night. Also, Forward Chris Udofia adds 13.6 points per game who leads the team in blocks with 22.
Iona will visit DU's 7,200 seat Magnus Arena opened in 1999 which is also the home of the school's highly competitive hockey team. I visited the old DU arena "Years ago" which this building replaced. The old place known for college hockey was a field house with a large set of stands on one side and a wall behind the player benches. It was like an aircraft hanger. This new building cost $70 million and appears to be similar to the combination hockey/basketball arenas that Boston College and Massachusetts-Amherst have built.
Later in the week, the Gaels will visit Huntington, West Virginia to play Marshall. Before Christmas, the Gaels will travel to Richmond on the 14th, go north to Burlington, Vermont to play the Catamounts on the 17th, then head back to Virginia to play William & Mary in Williamsburgh on the 21st. After a short Christmas break the Gaels make the short bus ride out to long Island to play Hofstra on the 29th.
Going into Sunday play, Iona's Real Time RPI stood at 46th in the country. If the Gaels can win 6 or 7 games on this road schedule it could impress the voters to move them close to the Top 25. Last year they proved they could win on the road in unfamiliar settings by coming out ahead at Liberty in the "Bracketbusters" game, then winning at Valparaiso and Eastern Tennessee State in the CIT.
A road schedule like this, not only challenges the team to focus on playing in tough settings, but also to be able to keep up with school work and exams while traveling. That is a tough challenge for any college student.
Ken Kraetzer covers Iona basketball and West Point football for WVOX 1460 AM in New Rochelle, NY and Sons of the American Legion radio. He can be reached on email@example.com