Saturday, December 31, 2016

Iona's second half run vaults Gaels past Marist

By Matt Lisella (@Matty_Ice42)
Special To Daly Dose Of Hoops

NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Iona used a 16-0 run in the second half to send Marist back to Poughkeepsie with a 93-80 loss. 

The Red Foxes (4-10, 1-2 MAAC) came out of the gates hot, going on a 21-10 run in the first eight minutes of play behind sophomore Ryan Funk’s nine points on three three-pointers. 

“He’s been terrific all year for us,” Marist head coach Mike Maker said of Funk. “In my 29 years of coaching, I’ve never seen a player make the year-to-year progression he has.” 

Jordan Washington played a major role in cutting the Gaels’ deficit in the first half, scoring ten points with three rebounds in just 11 minutes. He came off the bench for the first time this season, but was just as productive in only 21 minutes. He carried the load offensively and bullied the Marist big men in the paint, finishing with 26 points and grabbing eight rebounds. 

“Coach told me to bring the energy off the bench and be a good bench player, and that’s what I did today,” he said. “It don’t really matter the position I’m in, if I start or don’t start, because if I don’t start, I’m still going to bring the same type of energy if I do start.”

The Gaels (9-5, 2-1 MAAC) shared the ball all afternoon, assisting on 21 of their 34 made field goals. Sam Cassell Jr. and Rickey McGill were catalysts on offense, combining for 17 of those 21 assists, ten of them coming from McGill. The sophomore finished with 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting, giving him his first career double-double in the win.

EJ Crawford also scored 15 points for the Gaels and Jon Severe had ten, all in the second half. This was Severe’s third straight game with no first half points. Cassell Jr. hasn’t played well since returning from the Great Alaska Shootout, but today took more than ten shots for the first time since November. He put up 19 points with seven assists, and did not turn the ball over once. As a team, Iona only turned it over four times and used a 30-4 run in the second half to seal the victory. 

Marist played well collectively, shooting 60 percent from deep, (15-for-25) but in the end, ran out of steam.

“We played really well for 28-30 minutes,” said Maker. “I’m proud of that, but also disappointed. We lack mental toughness.” 

Marist outrebounded Iona 32-29, but were also outscored 50-12 in the paint and outworked 18-4 on the fast break. With Iona running after makes, it led to countless layups at the other end. The Gaels also found success at the free throw line, hitting 18 of their 22 attempts while only allowing Marist to take 14 of their own.

Marist will host Manhattan on Monday while Iona will play back-to-back difficult road games at Fairfield and Monmouth before returning home to host Canisius.

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