Iona Holds Off Furious Rally to Beat Siena

By Kevin Sweeney

AJ English had 32 points, including 2 dagger 3’s in the final minutes, to help Iona stave off the hard-charging Siena Saints 87-81. The win gives the Gaels full control of 2nd place in the MAAC conference. 

The Gaels came out of the gates scorching hot from downtown. Iona absolutely destroyed the Saints in all aspects of the game for the first 20 minutes. The Gaels knocked down 10-13 3’s in the half. While Iona came out firing, Siena struggled mightily, shooting just 1-10 from 3. When the dust settled, the Gaels led the Saints 57-36, and a blowout seemed to be looming. 

“I don’t think us as players, we weren’t ready to go,” Siena senior forward Brett Bisping stated. “That’s on us as players.”  

The game changed dramatically in the second half, as it was the Saints who started hot. Siena fed off the energy from a raucous home crowd and tenacious defense from freshman Nico Clareth, who locked down English for long stretches in the second half. The game appeared to be getting away from the Saints as the Gaels led 72-56 with 11:01 to go. Then, Siena took all the momentum. They went on an extended 17-0 run that lasted nearly 7 and a half minutes. The Saints were able to turn the game around because they went back to doing what they do best. They pounded the ball inside, with the forward trio of Lavon Long, Brett Bisping, and Javion Ogunyemi dominating the game in the second half. That group combined for 53 points and 30 rebounds. Bisping matched a career high with 18 boards. 

In the final 4 minutes, Iona, and English, just wouldn’t be denied. Just 4 seconds after a Bisping tip-in gave Siena their first lead of the ball-game, English knocked down a deep triple to hand the lead back to Iona. Another English 3 with 1:36 to go sealed the deal for the Gaels. 

The Gaels clinched a top 2 seed with the win, moving to 14-4 in MAAC play. Siena falls to 12-6 in MAAC play, but can clinch the 3rd seed with a win over Fairfield on Wednesday night. 


Winners & Losers From a Wild Saturday in College Hoops

By Kevin Sweeney

After another crazy Saturday in College Basketball, let’s take at some of the biggest winners and losers as teams look to bolster their resumés before March Madness.

Winners:

  1. North Carolina: Coming off a shocking loss vs Duke, the Tar Heels put on one of their most impressive performances of the season, dominating #11 Miami 96-71 in a game in which the Tar Heels led by as many as 38 points.  The win gives North Carolina sole possession of first place in the ACC. It also gives a huge boost to the Tar Heels’s hopes for a #1 seed.
  2. St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies snagged their signature win on Saturday by knocking off #15 Dayton on the road.  The win boosted St. Bonaventure’s RPI a whopping 19 places, from 53 to 34.  The win positions the Bonnies for an at-large bid.  With a fairly easy schedule ahead, the Bonnies have a chance to move up in the A-10 standings and continue to make their case as to why they deserve to be in the field of 68.
  3. Indiana: The Hoosiers were winners all week in college basketball.  At the beginning of the week, the Hoosiers trailed both Iowa and Maryland in the Big 10 standings.  However, with upset losses by the Hawkeyes and Terps, coupled with a win over Purdue, the Hoosiers are now in first place in the Big 10.  Plus, scoring a win over in-state rival Purdue is always a big deal.
  4. Hawaii: With their win over UC Irvine after most of you went to bed (tip was at 11:30), Hawaii took full control of the Big West.  The win gave the Rainbow Warriors a two game lead in the conference with 4 games to play.  It also gave Hawaii another top 100 RPI win to bolster their resumé.  The Rainbow Warriors are now 22-3, with 2 of their losses to Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
  5. St. Mary’s: Another bubble team who was in need of a big win, the Gaels pulled in an impressive win over Gonzaga. It was their first time sweeping the season series with the Zags since 1995.  Going into a difficult atmosphere, the Gaels controlled the game from the opening tip.  The win moves St. Mary’s into a first place tie with Gonzaga and own the tiebreaker.

Losers:

  1. Isaac Humphries: C’mon Man! Humphries ruined the best game of his career by committing a STUPID technical foul with under 10 seconds to go in overtime.  Leading by one and about to go to the free throw line, Humphries spiked the ball.  Despite pleadings from Tyler Ulis, the referee whistled him for a technical foul, which also fouled him out of the game.  Kentucky lost on a buzzer-beater, and Humphries is certainly not going to want to show his face in Lexington for a little while.
  2. Duke: Early in the second half, Duke were in control of Louisville on the road.  From then on, the Cardinals dominated , outscoring the Blue Devils by 20 in the game’s final 17 minutes.  The game stands as a troubling loss for the Blue Devils, who were seemingly headed in the right direction after a huge win over North Carolina.
  3. Florida State: The Seminoles seem to be playing their way off the bubble.  With a loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday, Florida State has now lost 4 in a row, including winnable games against Syracuse, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech.  The Seminoles have just 1 win over teams in the AP top 25.
  4. LSU: How much will the committee take from LSU? The Tigers have shown signs of brilliance, but have lots of troubling losses.  The loss on Saturday is especially troubling.  The Tigers were dominated by a Tennessee team who came into the game just 12-14 on the season.  We all want to see Ben Simmons in the Big Dance, but LSU’s resumé doesn’t compare to other bubble teams.
  5. William & Mary: The Tribe’s loss to 3-23 Drexel probably eliminates them from contention for the CAA regular season title.  The loss comes at an odd time for the Pride, who were coming off a big win over first-place UNC Wilmington.  If nothing else, the game demonstrates how wide open the CAA Tournament will be.

St. Bonaventure Knocks Off Dayton In Huge A-10 Battle

By Kevin Sweeney

Jaylen Adams had 31 points, including the final seven of the game, to lift St. Bonaventure to a crucial 79-72 win over Dayton on Saturday at UD Arena. It was the Flyers’s first home loss in conference play since January of 2014. The win gives the Bonnies a signature win for their NCAA Tournament resumé. 

Charles Cooke led the way for the Flyers with 22 points. Scoochie Smith had 18. Adams was supported by a 15 point, 8 rebound performance by Dion Wright. 

St. Bonaventure started strong, running out to a 15-5 lead in the early stages of the game. After that run, however, the game stayed close throughout, with neither team owning a double-digit lead the rest of the way. 

Even without Kendall Pollard, an interior presence and Dayton’s third-leading scorer, the Flyers were able to impose their will on the inside. Dyshawn Pierre had a double-double with 12 points and thirteen rebounds. Center Steve McElvene was dominant at times in the paint, but foul trouble limited him to just 18 minutes. 

The game was slowed down by fouls. With J.D. Collins, the NCAA’s national coordinator of officiating, in attendance, there were 47 fouls called in the game. As a result, many key contributors on both sides were limited due to foul trouble. 

Both sides competed until the end, but with the game tied at 72 with under a minute to go, Adams took over. First, Adams drilled a contested 3-pointer with 36 seconds to go. Then, he knocked down 4 foul shots in the final 20 seconds to seal the deal for the Bonnies. 

St. Bonaventure will continue their quest for an at-large bid on Wednesday when they take on Duquesne in Olean, NY. The Flyers will look to end a 2 game skid on Tuesday when they travel to take on St. Louis.  

Iona Uses Dominant 1st Half To Knock Off Monmouth

By Kevin Sweeney

In perhaps the most talked-about regular season game in MAAC history, Iona controlled the 1st half en route to an 83-67 win over Monmouth on Friday night. A.J English had 31 points to lead the Gaels. 

Iona was quickly able to silence a standing-room only crowd at Monmouth’s MAC with a 19-0 run that spanned nearly 7 minutes in the early stages of the first half. Monmouth struggled to do anything on offense in that stretch, and they turned the ball over 6 times during that period, leading to easy buckets in transition for the Gaels. 

Monmouth’s offense seemed out of sync for most of the night in their first game without senior forward Deon Jones, who is out for the foreseeable future with a hand injury. Iona went to a 3-2 matchup zone that didn’t allow Justin Robinson to create using dribble penetration. Without Jones, a zone-breaker because of his skill in the high post, the Hawks were forced into contested 3’s with the shot clock winding down. Jones’s replacement, junior wing Collin Stewart was ineffective, scoring just 2 points on 0-7 shooting. 

Iona was able to exploit one of Monmouth’s biggest weaknesses: rebounding. In the first half, the Gaels grabbed 11 offensive rebounds and put up 17 2nd chance points. Without Jones, who is also Monmouth’s leading rebounder, Iona was able to impose its will on the glass. Monmouth caught up on the glass in the second half when Iona big men Aaron Rountree and Jordan Washington left the game with foul trouble. 

A.J. English made numerous clutch shots for the Gaels in the second half. Monmouth made numerous pushes in the second half, but every time the crowd got back into it, it seemed that English knocked down a 3. Monmouth cut the lead to eleven on consecutive possessions with around 5 minutes remaining, but English answered with a pair of huge 3’s that put the game away. 

English’s game-high 31 led the Gaels. Rountree added 13 for Iona. Monmouth was led by junior guard Justin Robinson, who scored 21 points. Austin Tilghman put up 15 points off the bench for the Hawks. 

Iona has another huge game on Monday when they travel to Albany to take on 3rd place Siena. Monmouth will look to get back on track on Sunday at Saint Peters. 

Princeton Gets Critical Win Over Yale

By Kevin Sweeney

They needed this one.

The Princeton Tigers came into tonight’s game against Yale understanding just how high the stakes were.  With the Ivy League season winding down, Princeton knew that a loss tonight would be fatal to their NCAA Tournament aspirations.  A loss would have put the Tigers two games behind Yale with just 5 games to play.  A win, however, would put the Tigers in excellent position to win their first Ivy League title in 5 years.

Needing a win, the Tigers once again looked to standout freshman Devin Cannady to lead the charge.  Cannady obliged, scoring 20 points, including 3-4 from deep, off the bench to push Princeton to a 75-63 win.  Spencer Weisz added 15 for the Tigers.  With the win, the Tigers moved within just a half game of Yale for first place in the Ivy League.

Princeton made a huge run in the late stages of the first half to take control of the game. After a Justin Sears lay-up gave the Bulldogs a 27-21 lead with 5:02 to go in the half, Princeton went on a 18-2 run keyed by Cannady to take a 39-29 lead into the half. Cannady knocked down 2 straight triples to start the run.  Yale shot just 1-6 from the field in that stretch.

Cold shooting doomed the Bulldogs throughout the night.  Yale shot just 38.6% from the field for the game, and knocked down just 1 3-pointer in 12 tries.  The Bulldogs were also unable to hold onto the basketball, as they committed 16 turnovers in the contest.  These struggles caused Yale to have their 12 game win streak snapped.

Princeton was able to seal the deal tonight with a strong performance from the free-throw line.  In the final four minutes of the game, the Tigers knocked down 13-17 from the charity stripe.  This free throw excellence didn’t give Yale a chance to make a comeback, as each run was answered by made foul shots.

Yale was led by Brandon Sherrod, who put up 18 for the Bulldogs.  Makai Mason also had 18. Justin Sears posted a double-double, scoring 15 points and snatching 10 rebounds for Yale.

Yale will travel to Philadelphia tomorrow to take on Penn in another difficult atmosphere, this time at the famed Palestra.  Princeton will look to continue their 5 game winning streak tomorrow in a home duel with Brown.

North Florida Dominates NJIT In Battle for First in A-Sun

By Kevin Sweeney

The North Florida Ospreys controlled all facets of the game from the opening tip in a convincing 107-71 win over NJIT.  Demarcus Daniels led the charge with 25 points off the bench for the Ospreys. 

The teams came into the game trending in opposite directions. NJIT entered the game having won 5 straight, while North Florida had lost 4 in a row coming in to tonight’s contest. With both teams entering the game tied for first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference, they recognized the importance of tonight’s game. North Florida took control from the get-go and never looked back. 

Nicknamed the “Birds of Trey” for their 3-point shooting prowess, North Florida lived up to the billing tonight, shooting 17-29 from downtown. Daniels led the charge, drilling 4-6 from distance. Chris Davenport and Aaron Bodager each knocked down 3 3-pointers as well. This was the second time that North Florida lit up the Highlanders from behind the arc. In their first meeting, the Ospreys knocked down a whopping 20 3’s. 

Another area in which the Ospreys asserted dominance was in the post. The North Florida big men were clearly quicker and more athletic than the NJIT bigs, and were able to exploit the mismatch. Daniels and Davenport both easily eclipsed their season averages in points.

Junior guard Dallas Moore also had a huge game for UNF.  Not only did he post a double double with 21 points and 11 assists, Moore put his name into the North Florida record books.  In the first half, Moore became the all-time leading scorer in North Florida history. 

Sophomore guard Chris Jenkins led the way for the Highlanders with 16 points off the bench. Ky Howard added 13 for NJIT. The Highlanders will look to rebound with another important game on Saturday against Jacksonville. 

Albany Hands Stony Brook Their First Loss Since December

By Kevin Sweeney

Freshman Joe Cremo led a balanced scoring attack with 16 points to help Albany hand Stony Brook their first loss since mid-December on Wednesday night. Cremo was one of 5 Danes in double figures. With the win, the Danes move to within 2 games of the Seawolves for first place in the America East conference. 

Stony Brook was doomed by poor shooting from the outset, shooting under 40% from the field and just 20% from distance. Albany was able to limit the Seawolves’s two star players, guard Carson Puriefoy and center Jameel Warney, to below their season averages. Puriefoy struggled mightily, shooting just 2-11 from the field for just 10 points. The normally reliable Puriefoy had just one assist compared to four turnovers. The Seawolves also weren’t able to assert their usual dominance on the glass. Stony Brook, who on average out-rebounds their opponents by 8, were out-rebounded by 5 by the Great Danes. 

This win should give Albany a boost of confidence as conference tournament play approaches. Another encouraging sign for the Great Danes was a strong shooting night from senior Peter Hooley.  Hooley, who had shot just 1-11 from 3 in his past 3 games, was 3-4 from distance tonight. While Hooley is regarded as an excellent 3-point shooter, he has struggled this season, shooting just 23% from 3 this season. If Hooley can build on this performance, he may give the Danes the boost they need to win the America East and reach the NCAA Tournament for the 4th straight season. 

Albany will play next in a week at UMASS-Lowell. Stony Brook will look to clinch home-court advantage throughout the America East Tournament on Sunday at Maine.