David Laury's 30 points helped Iona shake off Quinnipiac en route to 81-73 victory. (Photo courtesy of USA Today)
David Laury did not forget about his first experience against Quinnipiac.
Last year, one year ago tonight, in fact, Laury was exploited by a Bobcats team that picked Iona apart on the way to their first statement victory in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Evidently, 365 days can make a huge difference.
Leading all scorers with 30 points, the second time this year in which Laury, the MAAC Preseason Player of the Year, reached that plateau, the senior forward did more than just put his first impression of Quinnipiac behind him. Simply put, Laury was unguardable as the Gaels held off a tenacious Bobcat roster to score their third conference win in four tries, walking off the floor at the Hynes Center with an 81-73 win to raise their home record to 6-0.
"It just wasn't me last year," Laury recalled when asked of his performance against the Bobcats, namely Ousmane Drame, who tonight was held to just five points and nine rebounds. "I wanted to come out and show that aggressiveness. They punked us up there."
Isaiah Williams chipped into the cause as well with a double-double, amassing 22 points and 10 rebounds on an evening where point guard A.J. English, the third-leading scorer in the nation, managed just 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting as Iona (10-5, 3-1 MAAC) was outrebounded 45-37 on the night, and 21-7 on the offensive glass against one of the more physical teams in the country.
"I thought Isaiah was huge," head coach Tim Cluess; who picked up his 200th NCAA win in tonight's contest, remarked, "going out and getting 10 rebounds for us."
While Laury was the star of the night, what may have been most impressive was how the Gaels responded with him on the bench in the second half. Holding a tenuous 55-50 lead with 11:12 remaining in regulation, a Williams putback and English three-pointer raised the advantage into double digits before Cluess replaced Laury with Ryden Hines just over a minute later. What followed was a pair of threes for Williams and a Vangelis Bebis basket, while the Iona defense, long maligned for its inability to stay consistent before this season, held Quinnipiac off the scoreboard as the lead reached its highest summit with 7:11 to play, in the form of an 18-point Gaels cushion at 68-50.
"There's a lot of guys who could score," Laury reaffirmed. "We could score in a multitude of ways, and tonight was a great example of that."
Quinnipiac fell to 6-7 with the loss, and most importantly, 0-4 in MAAC play in their final tuneup before a trip to New Jersey to take on first-place Monmouth; winners of each of their four league games, Friday night. Although he shot from the hip as he usually does, head coach Tom Moore remained optimistic about what lies ahead.
"I'm a little disappointed in our toughness, believe it or not," Moore admitted. "I think we got demoralized when they made shots, (but) I'm very positive about our group. It's been a rocky road, but who hasn't had a rocky road? We've been good in spurts, then we look bad."