Men's College Basketball
Iona College 78, Rider University 71
NEW ROCHELLE, NY- Finding Nemo in New York about as scary as a clownfish, the Broncs weathered the storm with ease while traveling to Iona.
The Broncs found the Iona team not quite as tame, as the Gael storm warnings proved to be more accurate.
"Iona played well," said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett. "We knew they would be aggressive. Both teams competed hard and well tonight. Our job was to weather the storm and stay composed when they tried to turn it into a track meet."
Despite a career-high 26 points from senior Jonathon Thompson (Orlando, Fla./Jones), Rider lost a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game to the Iona Gaels Saturday night in the battle for third place broadcast on ESPN3.
Holding a 68-67 lead, Iona (15-10, 9-5 MAAC) out-scored Rider (13-13, 8-6 MAAC) 7-1 to take a 75-68 lead with 2:47 left to play. "They hit some big shots," Baggett said of the Gaels. "We didn't get stops when we needed them."
A three-point field goal by junior Anthony Myles (Dover, DE/Poly-Tech) cut the lead to 75-71, but that was as close as the Broncs could get.
Myles finished with 19 points. "We hit some big shots to get back into it," Baggett said.
Thompson converted a four-point play to tie the score at 52 with 12:30 left to play and converted a three-point play to tie the score at 55 with 10:04 remaining. "Jon is the best," Baggett said. "He's the guy I rely on every night."
During that stretchThompson scored 12 straight Rider points. In his last three games Thompson has compiled 67 points. "He stepped up and did what we needed him to do," Baggett said. "He's playing with confidence right now."
For Iona, senior guard Lamont Jones scored 32 points and junior guard Sean Armand added 24 points, including the 1000th of his career. "Armand and Jones are very good," Baggett said. "They are two of the best players in the league."
The Broncs out-scored Iona 11-4 to start the second half, making three three-pointers, to tie the score at 42 with 17:08 left to play.
Rider used a 9-4 run, four points by freshman Khalil Alford (Raleigh, NC/Fishburne Military), to cut the lead to 34-31 with 50 seconds left in the half, before Iona scored the final four points of the half to take a 38-31 lead at intermission. Alford compiled six points in 12 minutes off the bench.
Trailing 11-10, Iona out-scored Rider 11-2, five points each by Jones and Armand, to take a 21-13 lead with 9:43 left in the first half. Jones and Armand had 30 of Iona's 38 first-half points. "They put us on our heels a bit in the first half," Baggett said of Iona's All-MAAC backcourt. "Their best two players set the tone for them tonight."
Rider junior Daniel Stewart (Philadelphia, PA/Neumann-Goretti) added eight points, five rebounds, three blocks and three assists.
Rider and Iona split the series this year. On January 20 the Broncs defeated Iona 67-62 in Lawrenceville.
Rider and Iona have now met 51 times since the series began in 1949-50, with Rider winning 23, including eight of the last 16. Rider is 14-18 vs. Iona in MAAC regular season games.
The Gaels are now 9-1 at home this year.
Rider returns home to host Saint Peter's Thursday. Hopefully there will be no storms.