By Kevin Sweeney
On November 25, I tweeted this on Iona star big man Jordan Washington:
I wondered what type of numbers the incredibly talented Washington could put up if he stayed out of foul trouble.
Tonight, we saw what he’s capable of, and the rest of the MAAC should be scared of it becoming a common occurrence.
Washington posted 30 points in a career-high 32 minutes and carried Iona to a huge home win over MAC contender Ohio at Hynes Center in New Rochelle, NY. Iona moves to 6-3 (1-1 MAAC) with the win.
Much of the first half for the Gaels looked like their home opener last Sunday against Niagara. The potent offense that has been a staple of the Tim Cluess era was struggling once again, and the Gaels fell behind by double-digits in the early stages of the half. A deep triple from Ohio’s Jaaron Simmons gave the Bobcats a 16-4 lead with 13:01 to play in the half. Meanwhile, Washington was the only player for the Gaels who could get anything going on offense, as he was the only Gael to score until a Ricky McGill layup almost 9 minutes into the game. As the half wore on, the tempo picked up and Iona got their flow offensively, cutting into the deficit by hitting 4 threes in the final 8:38 of the half. However, Ohio was able to hold onto the lead going into the break, leading 40-34 at halftime. Antonio Campbell was the difference-maker for the Bobcats, scoring 12 points on 6-7 shooting. However, foul trouble would plague Campbell in the second half, thanks in no part to Washington’s persistent work down low.
In many ways, the second half was the Jan Svandrlik coming-out party. Svandrlik, who had scored just 5 points all season coming into today’s contest, scored 16 points, including 4 threes, in the second half. It was a triple from Svandrlik that gave the Gaels their first lead of the contest, 57-56 with 11:56 to play in the game. The game remained incredibly tight throughout the second half, but Svandrlik was no doubt the difference. After a mini 6-1 run gave Ohio a 70-65 lead, Svandrlik made threes on back-to-back possessions to start a 10-0 run that turned a 5 point deficit into a 5 point lead for the Gaels.
Ohio fought back and tied the game at 75 with a pair of free throws by Jordan Dartis, but in closing moments, Iona freshman E.J. Crawford took over. First, he made a nice move on the perimeter to draw a foul, where he made one out of two to give Iona a 76-75 lead with 1:23 to play. Then, Crawford finished a tough and-1 layup with less than 20 seconds to play that gave the Gaels a four-point lead they would not relinquish.
Svandrlik finished with 19 points and 5 rebounds for Iona, while Crawford had 15 and
McGill had a career-high 12 assists. Simmons had 22 for the Bobcats, while Campbell had 16 and 9 boards in the game.
Next up for Iona is a home matchup with NJIT on Thursday night. The 5-2 Bobcats return home for a Thursday test against Milwaukee.