A.J. English concludes his career with 28 points as Iona's upset bid in NCAA Tournament comes up short against Iowa State. (Photo courtesy of Brian Beyrer via Iona College Athletics)
A.J. English scored 28 points in a heroic last stand, but it was not enough for Iona, whose season came to an end Thursday afternoon in Denver, falling to Iowa State by the final of 94-81 in a first-round game in the Midwest Regional.
English also racked up six rebounds and six assists for the Gaels, (22-11) who received 26 points and 12 boards from Jordan Washington in one of his more efficient outings, but the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions, seeded 13th in the Midwest, were unable to overcome a Cyclones offense that placed all five of its starters in double figures, headlined by Georges Niang's 28 points, which tied English for the game high.
"I'm really proud of my guys' effort out there," said head coach Tim Cluess, whose Gaels got within single digits late in the second half before Iowa State took advantage of an ill-timed technical foul assessed to English, as well as a flagrant-1 foul charged to Deyshonee Much. "We may not have played our best game as far as execution goes, but I thought they played with all their heart and left it all out on the court. I couldn't be more proud of any group I've ever coached."
Iona started off with a bang, scoring the first five points of the game, but promptly gave up an 11-0 run to the fourth-seeded Cyclones, who took the lead for good at that stage. The Gaels fought hard to make the game close, but ultimately could not get over the hump.
"They overachieved well beyond their knowledge right now," said Cluess of how he hoped his team would be remembered. "They succeeded well above what a lot of us dreamed of. That's what makes me so proud of them."
With the win, Iowa State will take on either Purdue or Little Rock in the second round on Saturday.