In that game against the Scarlet Knights, Iona's best player, Kristina Ford, went down with a knee injury. Things looked bleak for the Gaels, as Ford was going to be out for a significant period of time. They lost their next game, a close 62-58 game at Fairfield, who is currently second in the MAAC.
Then came the big weekend for Iona as they had home contests vs. Marist and Fairfield, the top two teams in the conference. The Gaels came out strong and held their own early on against the Red Foxes. The score was 13-12 Marist after eight minutes. But the Red Foxes went on a 13-0 run over a four minute span and went up 26-12 on the Gaels. Iona played Marist even the rest of the way but couldn't get closer than eight the rest of the way, losing 72-61.
Heading into the game vs. Loyola, Iona was now 6-9 in conference and in danger of having to play the first day of the MAAC Tournament. That's a death sentence for any team; the Gaels would have to play four games in four days to have a chance to win the MAAC championship. Knowing my CAA Tournament history from the past ten years, it's basically a no-win scenario for Iona.
With that scenario in the backdrop, the Gaels needed to end their losing streak yesterday vs. the Greyhounds. Loyola entered the game in third place in the MAAC with a 9-6 conference record. They were looking to clinch a first round bye in the MAAC tournament with a win.
But the Gaels would respond with a 15-4 run to end the half. Ford and Powell would combine for eleven of the fifteen points. Iona would go to the half with a 27-19 lead, their first lead at the half at home since their win over Canisius.
I had an unique honor at halftime. When I got to the Hynes Center, I received a text from Nick Guerriero, the play by play announcer for the Iona women's team. Nick asked me if I wanted to be the halftime interview. I gladly said yes. Nick asked some terrific questions about the 800 Games Project that I am a part of at MidMajority.Com, BracketBusters, the CAA, Iona, the NEC, women's basketball (I talked about seeing Elena Delle Donne vs. Hofstra Thursday night) and New York City Metro Area basketball. It was my first ever radio interview on hoops and it was a lot of fun. Thank you, Nick!
But basketball will always be a game of runs. So while I took my younger son Jonathan to the restroom, the Greyhounds responded with a 17-7 run. As I entered back into the gym, Loyola was only down ten, 51-41 with a little less than nine minutes left.
It was a balanced attack for Iona. Martinez had seventeen points, nine of which came from the foul line. Powell had sixteen points and Bacic had twelve points. But Ford perhaps had the most impressive game for the Gaels with fourteen points and eleven rebounds. She was very aggressive driving to the hole during the game, which I hadn't seen since prior to her knee injury. Iona also had a terrific day at the charity stripe, hitting twenty of their twenty three free throw attempts.
I know how loud it can be at the McCann Center. Then they finish the season at home hosting Saint Peter's. Their season has been a stretch of streaks, both winning and losing streaks. Perhaps there's one more winning streak to be started.