Before last night, the last time I saw an Iona Men's Basketball game was March 30 of this year, when the Hynes Center hosted the championship game of the CIT as Santa Clara played Iona. With the recent advent of the College Insider Tournament (CIT), the College Basketball Invitational (CBI), as well as the seventy three year old NIT, which was won this season by Wichita State, some mid major teams' seasons now don't always end in loss. The home team had a chance to end their season with a win. Alas for the Gaels, it was the Broncos' season that didn't end in a loss, as Santa Clara downed Iona 76-69 to win the CIT championship.
When I left my house in North Bellmore last night at 6:00 P.M., I was sure that I would not make it to New Rochelle until well into the first half. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest travel days of the year as well as the biggest party night of the year. I expected a lot of traffic on my route to Iona, especially on the usual traffic spots like the Northern State/Grand Central Parkway, the Cross Island Parkway and the Hutchinson River Parkway. Much to my amazement, the only traffic I encountered was on the will call line at the Hynes Center for my ticket.
John Templon's Big Apple Buckets NYC Power Poll. And given St Joseph's long history as a mid major basketball power, it made sense that the gym was near capacity. And the 2,611 that were in attendance were treated to one hell of a game.
St Joseph's showed early on that they had about as much talent as Iona had on offense. Langston Galloway's three point barrage and C.J. Aiken's all around play riddled the Gaels defense early on in the game. The Hawks had a 33-20 lead midway through the first half. Up to that point, Iona's defensive play was seriously lacking.
The second half was a back and forth affair. It was very close for the last twenty minutes of regulation, with no team getting a lead larger than five points. For Iona, Glover and Machado continued to score at will, but Smyth was now added to the mix, as he contributed several three pointers. But Galloway, Aiken, Carl Jones and Ronald Roberts kept St Joe's right there.
In overtime, Iona was up two 93-91 and had the ball on an inbounds play with about thirty seconds to play. Momo Jones was trapped by the Gaels bench, but the ball appeared to be knocked out of bounds by a Hawks' player. However, the referee ruled St Joe's ball and Iona's coach, Tim Cluess was livid. The Hawks would tie the score at ninety three and we went to a second overtime.
Machado took over from there. He would score seven of the Gaels' nine points in the second overtime. The Hawks, who only really had a seven man rotation, seemed gassed at the end. Iona would make the fans' holiday drive home a happy one, winning 104-99. Glover had a huge double double with 34 points and 15 rebounds, while Machado's double double was 33 points and 10 assists. Carl Jones led St Joe's with 25 points while Roberts had 20 points for the Hawks.
As we left the Hynes Center, I knew I would be back here soon. Iona plays their next home game Monday night vs. LIU. The Blackbirds were one of the top scoring teams in the country last season, averaging eighty two points per game.
Just the kind of tempo the Gaels like to play.