After we watched Stony Brook win the America East Regular Season Championship, my older son Matthew and I exited Pritchard Gym while the players were still hoisting the America East Regular Season Championship trophy. We made our way to the car and headed out for the long trip to New Rochelle for the last regular season games for the women's and men's teams. The trip took a little more than a hour, thanks to lighter than usual Sunday traffic and a little bit of a lead foot by yours truly.
Matthew was wise enough to have slept the entire trip. I had to wake him as I parked our car in the Iona garage. After Matthew stretched, we walked to the Hynes Center. Iona was hosting St Peter's in a Senior Day doubleheader. The women's game was first and the men's game would follow a hour later.
But what was going to be a microcosm of the men's game, the Gaels outscored the Peahens 31-7 the rest of the way, which included a game ending 16-0 run. St Peter's missed their last eight shots and committed two turnovers in that span. Meanwhile, Iona hit eighteen of their twenty free throw attempts in the second half. The Gaels' Women's team won the first half of the doubleheader 74-49.
We left the reception and headed back into the Hynes Center Gym several minutes after what was supposed to be the start of the game. Much to my surprise, the Senior Day awards ceremony for the six seniors on the Iona Men's Basketball Team was still taking place. When we got to our seats, all the way up in the top rows of the general admission side of the gym, Scott Machado was being introduced last to the packed crowd.
The Gaels spotted the Peahens a 4-0 lead. A Glover dunk and a Momo Jones three put Iona up to stay 5-4. But St Peter's kept it close throughout the first half. The score was only 17-14 when Jenkins hit three consecutive three pointers in a row to give the Gaels a 26-17 lead. But the Peahens refused to go away in the first half and actually cut the deficit to five, 40-35 at halftime.
The first four plus minutes of the second half saw very little change. Iona had pulled out to an eleven point lead. But St Peter's was able to cut the lead back to seven, 50-43 with a little less than sixteen minutes left. At the under sixteen media timeout, the pep band played the James Bond theme song. Perhaps the pep band knew that the Gaels were about to use their "License to Kill" on the Peahens.
But the Gaels weren't done yet. Another three point play by Jones was sandwiched between two Glover layups. Jenkins once again found his three point shooting touch and buried another two shots from beyond the arc. It was a 31-0 run before Lamin Fulton ended it with a three pointer. The Gaels were up 81-46 with still eight and a half minutes to go in the game.
Iona took its foot off the throttle down the stretch, despite pleas from Matthew for the Gaels to score one hundred points. Iona just missed, winning handily 98-61. In a rarely seen nice touch, Cluess let Smyth, a key player and a starter for most of the season, stay on the court and dribble out the last few seconds of the game.
Jenkins, in his last regular season home game scored a career high twenty one points on seven three pointers. Jones led Iona with twenty four points, while Glover and Armand each had fourteen. Machado nearly had another double double with nine points and twelve assists. Darius Conley led three St Peter's players in double figures with twelve points.
As Matthew and I made our way out of the Hynes Center for perhaps the last time this season, I wondered two things. One, I thought about whether Iona could not only win the MAAC Championship but also make a run to the Sweet Sixteen this season. Second, I wondered if the Iona Pep Band hires themselves out to play at parties.