By Norman Rose (@ECoastBias)
ALBANY, NY -- Iona won the MAAC Tournament championship again by the score of 83-71 over the Fairfield Stags, taking advantage of a busted bracket where the 1, 2, and 3 seeds all met upsets in their first games.
The Gaels, 20-13, now await for seeding in the NCAA Tournament -- a likely 15 seed. Fairfield finishes their season 17-16, with a seven-game winning streak before tonight's game.
For exactly 16 minutes of game time, the Fairfield Stags were giving the tournament-tested Iona Gaels a real game, and looked like they had to moxie to, just maybe, pull it out. Tyler Nelson had it cooking, the defense was doing enough to keep Iona from scoring efficiently.
But, while trying to get free on an inbounds play with five seconds left on the shot clock, Nelson was called for an offensive foul for shoving Rickey McGill.
He had two fouls. So did starters Jesus Cruz and Ferron Flavors, Jr.
All were on the bench for much of the next four minutes, as the Gaels went on an 8-2 run, which was followed by a 8-1 run to start the second half. That 16-3 stretch was more than enough to gain separation.
The Gaels led by as many as 20 points in the second half, riding Roland Griffin -- who assaulted each Fairfield center to the tune of 29 points on an array of two-dribble post moves -- and Zach Lewis, who had 13 of his 20 points in the first half.
The Gaels enjoyed 44 points in the paint in an outing where they only shot 31% from outside the arc.
Tyler Lewis finished with 25 points, while Wassef Methnani had some good minutes, scoring 14 with 8 rebounds (4 offensive) in 21 minutes before fouling out on a double-technical after fouling McGill and being shoved by E.J. Crawford. Jesus Cruz also added 14.
More from Jaden on Iona's big win to come.