Friday, December 4, 2015

Iona tops century mark for second straight game, routs Marist, 101-66

Isaiah Williams recovered from off night, posting 18 points and nine rebounds as Iona topped Marist, 101-66, for Gaels' second straight MAAC victory. (Photo courtesy of Brian Beyrer via Iona College Athletics)

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY -- Three days removed from a statement victory in its Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opener, Iona responded with a second resounding salvo to conclude the opening weekend of league play.

Behind a 63 percent shooting effort from the floor and five double-figure scoring outings, the Gaels (2-2, 2-0 MAAC) conducted an offensive clinic at McCann Arena, eclipsing the 100-point barrier for the second straight game in a 101-66 thrashing of Marist.

"We played on both ends of the ball tonight," head coach Tim Cluess said as Iona collected 24 assists against just nine turnovers, while also turning 17 Marist miscues into 32 points in transition. "Even when we have a big lead early, we have a tendency when that happens to stop playing defense altogether and just take a three every time down the court. Tonight, I thought our guys, bench included, came in with a defensive mindset, and our defense led to some good offense."

In his first encore following a 46-point masterpiece against Fairfield on Tuesday, A.J. English managed only 16 markers on the evening, but flirted with a triple-double, recording nine assists and six rebounds in a well-rounded game that also saw the senior point guard tally three blocked shots and three steals. Jordan Washington's 21 points led all scorers in the runaway win, but another quality from Iona's power forward was what drew praise from his head coach after the game.

"He brings a level of toughness inside that we haven't had since Mike Glover," Cluess said of Washington. "I think that really helps us a lot, and I think also because of the way he's capable of playing, he can open up our perimeter a little bit because when you don't have that, it's easier to crowd people on the perimeter. As he's rounding into shape and into form, he can either score in there or commands a double-team."

Playing without the services of Schadrac Casimir, who continues to nurse a groin injury that Cluess said limited him to 60 percent capability against Fairfield, Isaiah Williams contributed to the cause with 18 points and nine rebounds. Deyshonee Much added 19 on 8-of-11 shooting, and Taylor Bessick amassed 11 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench. Khallid Hart paced Marist (1-4, 0-1 MAAC) with 18 points.

For the night, the Gaels shot an astounding 63 percent (38-for-60) from the field as they used runs of 24-5, 20-5, and 20-3 to pull away from the Red Foxes at the end of the first half and beginning of the second stanza. 

"That was an absolute clinic today," said Marist head coach Mike Maker of his opponent, "and I give Tim a lot of credit. They're individually talented, but they're also a very good team. That's the gold standard of the league."

Iona returns to the non-league portion of its schedule on Tuesday, when the Gaels travel to Tulsa, while Marist regroups to face two-time reigning MAAC champion Manhattan Sunday afternoon at Draddy Gymnasium.

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