By Kevin Sweeney
13 days ago, Iona put on arguably its worst performance of the season in a humiliating 103-85 home defeat to Rider.
It was a completely different story tonight.
The Gaels opened the game on a 35-13 run and never looked back, thumping the Broncs 88-70 to advance to the semifinals of the MAAC Tournament. Rickey McGill had a career-high 25 points in the winning effort.
Iona played with intensity on the defensive end throughout, and McGill set the tone with 4 steals. Rider couldn’t get anything going early on offense. The Gaels consistently double-teamed the post and forced Rider to make shots from the outside, a weakness for this Bronc team.
After the horrendous start, the Broncs fought hard to get back into the game. They even cut the deficit to 7 in the opening moments of the second half. But the Gaels had the answer to every Rider run, with a pair of threes by Schadrac Casimir (22 points) extending the lead back to 13 after it had been cut to 7.
Eventually, Iona extended the lead back up to 20 and the outcome was never in doubt down the stretch.
Iona big man Jordan Washington, who was quiet in the first half due to foul trouble, was much more involved in the second half. He wound up with 16 points in the game and scored his 1,000th point for his career in the second half.
Rider put all 5 starters in double figures, but got just 2 points from their bench. They were led by freshman PG Stevie Jordan’s 19 points & 12 rebounds and senior big man Kahlil Thomas’s 13 points and 10 rebounds. They conclude their season with an 18-15 record, though it is possible that they will be invited to a postseason tournament.
Iona records its 7th straight 20-win campaign with the win tonight. They advance to take on St. Peter’s tomorrow night with a trip to the MAAC Championship game on the line.