NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- An early 16-point advantage helped carry the Iona College men’s basketball team to a 90-76 MAAC victory at Niagara this afternoon in Western New York.
Despite suffering an early injury, Jon Severe led the Gaels (17-9, 10-5 MAAC) with 23 points behind five 3-pointers to go along with six rebounds and two steals. Rickey McGill scored all 19 of his points in the second half while tallying five rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Sam Cassell Jr. stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, a career-high seven rebounds and six assists while E.J. Crawford posted 13 points. Taylor Bessick hauled in 11 rebounds to match his season-best.
In the effort for the Purple Eagles (9-18, 6-10), Matt Scott notched a career-high 34 points to lead all scorers on 11-of-22 shooting to go along with seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Marvin Prochet added 16 points and six rebounds while Kahlil Dukes came off the bench for 10 points, seven assists, and five rebounds.
After scoring the first 10 points of the game, the Gaels stretched the lead to 16 points on two occasions in the first nine minutes. The Maroon & Gold connected on four 3-pointers during the run, led by back-to-back from Crawford.
In less than four minutes, however, the Purple Eagles cut the deficit to one point at 20-19 on the back of a 3-pointer from Scott. After not surrendering the lead, despite Niagara brining the margin to one point for a second time, Iona rallied off a 9-0 spurt in the final stages of the first half to help secure a 43-33 halftime break advantage.
Crawford led all scorers in the first 20 points minutes by totaling all 13 of his points on 5-of-6 shooting, including three 3-pointers. Iona knocked down 50 percent (7-for-14) of its shots from beyond the arc in the half, compared to 17.6 percent (3-of-17) for the hosts.
Following Niagara scoring the first four points of the second period, a 10-0 run from the Maroon & Gold helped to again break out a secure margin of 53-38 after a Severe 3-pointer. However, the Purple Eagles brought the Iona lead to single digits, 72-64, on a Kevin Larkin 3-pointer with 6:10 remaining and forced a Gaels timeout.
Coming out of the Iona timeout, Severe pushed the lead to double-digits for good with his fourth 3-pointer of the game. The Gaels pushed the lead to its largest of the game, 17 points, on three different occasions in the final four minutes to protect the 90-76 win.
Aiding the win for the Maroon & Gold was a 46-37 rebounding advantage along with a 34-18 margin in points in the paint. Iona also shot 60.7 percent (17-for-28) from the field in the second half to finish the game at 47.8 percent (32-for-67).
Iona concludes the quick two-game trip in Western New York with a 7:00 pm start on Tuesday at Canisius.