Monday, February 13, 2012

Machado's Rare Feat Gives Iona A Needed Win

Friday night, Iona traveled down to Maryland to play Loyola.  The Greyhounds went out to a twenty five point second half lead before the Gaels rallied to cut it to four.  But time ran out on Iona and Loyola Maryland won the game and took over sole possession of first place in the MAAC.

While I was out having dinner with a friend on Friday night,  my son Matthew watched the game at home on TV.  Saturday morning, Matthew told me all about the game and the Iona comeback that fell short.  He was looking forward to taking the trip up to New Rochelle to see Iona back on the winning track.  Somehow, in the past year, my six year old has become a college basketball maven, just like his dad.

Sometimes, a team after a huge, emotional victory will often feel a letdown in the next game.  Such was the case yesterday for Loyola as they hosted Fairfield.  The Greyhounds got routed at home by the Stags, losing 68-51.

Since it was doubleheader day at the Hynes Center, members of the Iona mens' team were waiting around for the end of the women's basketball game to finish.  One of the players asked out loud what was the update in the Fairfield-Loyola game. I told him that Fairfield won by seventeen and obviously he was pleased with the result.   So after the women's game finished, the Iona men's team took the court knowing a win would put them back in a tie for first.

At the start of the game, Iona came out determined to run Marist out of the building.  After eight and half minutes, the score was 23-7 Gaels.  Michael Glover, Taaj Ridley and Sean Armand combined to score twenty one of the twenty three points.  With about seven and half minutes left in the first half, Iona still held a comfortable 30-16 lead.

But as has been the case a few times this season, the Gaels cannot seem to stand prosperity.  The Red Foxes outscored them 22-12 the remainder of the half.  Marist was able to burn Iona for easy layups or Devin Price scorched the Gaels with a couple of three pointers.   Iona limped into the half up 42-38.

I often tweet about how great the Iona Pep Band is during the men's home games.  Well, when there is a doubleheader of women's and men's games, the Pep Band plays for both games.  If you were there for both games like me, you were treated to several Earth, Wind and Fire songs; "September" and "Fantasy", Santana's "Evil Ways", "BrickHouse", the"I Dream Of Jeannie" and The Wild Wild West:" TV show theme songs, "Smells Like Teen Spirit", "The Immigrant Song" and many others.  But the best was hearing Steely Dan's "Peg" both during the women's game and the men's game.  Good stuff.

The Red Foxes started the second half picking up right where they left off from the first half.  Marist outscored Iona 16-7 and held a 54-49 lead with fourteen and a half minutes left.  The Gaels' fans who had seen large leads evaporate against Manhattan at home and Siena on the road were getting quite antsy.  They didn't want to see the home team blow a chance to get back into a tie for first place.

Enter Glover and Momo Jones.  The duo basically took over the game from there as Iona went on a 13-1 run over the next three minutes.  Glover, Jones and Randy Dezouvre combined to score all the Gaels' points during that time frame as Iona went up 62-55.

However, Marist refused to go gently into that good, good night.   They cut the lead to three, 68-65 with about seven minutes left.   But the Red Foxes would not get any closer as Glover and Jones continued to score at will.  The Gaels' lead would extend to double digits, 79-69 on a Sean Armand three pointer with three and half minutes left.

As it became apparent that Iona was going to win the game, the buzz through the crowd and on Twitter was that Machado was only four points away from a triple double.  He already had ten assists and ten rebounds. The question was could he get those remaining four points.

It was his second time on the season that he was close to a triple double.   Late in the game in their win over Rider, Machado was just one rebound short of the rarely seen feat.  But coach Tim Cluess took him out before he could get that tenth rebound.  He was on the sidelines when Glover's free throw bounced off the rim right to the spot he would have been on the line had he still been in the game.

This time Machado was not going to be denied. First, he hit a layup with a little under three minutes left for his seventh and eighth points.  Then with time winding down on what would have likely been his last chance at the basket, Machado drove strong into the lane and  hit another layup to score his ninth and tenth points.  The public address announcer proudly proclaimed Machado's triple double and the fans roared in approval.

There also happen to be a couple of members of the San Antonio Spurs front office in attendance last night that likely approved of that as well.  Machado has received a lot of attention from NBA scouts and personnel in the past couple of months.  His stat line of ten points, ten assists and eleven rebounds from last night will only add to his ever growing resume.

Not to be outdone,  Glover had a double double with twenty five points and eleven rebounds.  Jones had twenty three points and Ridley had a double double as well with ten points and eleven rebounds.  Pride and Chavaughn Lewis each had twenty for Marist.

With their 83-74 win, Iona was back in a tie for first with Loyola.  Machado finally had his triple double, Glover and Jones combined to score forty eight points, a young Marist team showed a lot of heart and the Iona Pep Band had another great performance.  There was something for everyone last night.

Unless you were a Loyola Maryland fan. 

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