NEW ROCHELLE, NY - The Iona College men's basketball team erased a 20-point second half deficit but a three-point attempt as time ran out rimmed out and the Gaels fell two points short in an 85-83 defeat to Canisius in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play at the Hynes Center. The Maroon & Gold (8-8, 5-2 MAAC) slipped out of first place with the defeat.
Senior Sean Armand led five players in double-figures with 19 points. He was 8-for-17 from the field and hit two three-pointers while adding four rebounds and four assists. Sophomore A.J. English had 15 points, five boards, two assists and three steals. Sophomore Isaiah Williams came off the bench to score 17 points including three trifectas. Senior Tre Bowman netted 15 points with three steals and two assists. Senior Mike Poole had six points, six rebounds and six assists while junior David Laury added eight points and nine rebounds in the loss.
The Gaels jumped out to a 19-13 advantage in the first half on a Williams three ball at 13:57. Three and a half minutes later Canisius senior Billy Baron knotted the score at 21-21 at 10:36. After Armand hit a three on the next possession, the Griffs scored nine straight points to take a 30-24 advantage with 8:34 to play. Still down six at 6:13, a Bowman three and a Laury layup and two free throws accounted for a 7-0 Gael run and a 33-32 lead at less than a minute later. Iona's offense spurt was a foreshadowing of its second half effort to come. It was Canisius' turn to run as they scored 18 of the game's next 21 points to earn its largest lead of the half, 50-36 with 93 seconds left. Baron hit three straight long three point attempts to spark the visitors' run. A Bowman three on Iona's final possession made the deficit 11 points going into halftime.
Canisius continued its hot hand to start the second half as they quickly raced out to a 61-41 advantage just 3:20 into the frame. With Williams' three-pointer at 16:27, Iona began one of its finest offensive outputs of the season to erase the Griffs' lead. An 11-0 run capped by a midrange Poole jumper in the paint made the score 61-52 with 13:46 to play. Canisius worked its way back to a 16-point advantage on a jumper by Chris Perez at 12:02. A nifty high post pass from Poole to Williams on the baseline led to a Gael layup. Chris Manhertz hit one of two free throws to make the game 71-56 at 11:33. The Maroon & Gold then scored 18 straight points and took a 74-71 lead with 7:24 to play. The Gaels led by as many as five points when Williams drained a three from the wing with 4:52 left. Iona had outscored Canisius 40-15 in a span of 11:35.
Over the final five minutes however, the Gaels would only manage just two points, a Bowman jumper from just inside the three-point line that tied the score at 83-83 with 1:09 remaining. Having committed just four turnovers in the first 36 minutes of the contest, Iona had four key giveaways in the final four that proved the undoing of the comeback. Following Bowman's field goal, the Gaels got a key stop with 45 seconds left. After a timeout, Baron stole an errant pass and was fouled in transition and stuck two free throws to give Canisius a two-point advantage with 14 ticks on the clock. Armand got a clean look at a three-point attempt from 25 feet, just in front of the bench but the ball rimmed out as time expired.
Baron scored 29 points to lead Canisius. He was 10-of-17 from the field with five three-pointers, eight assists and four rebounds. Perez had 17 points and freshman Zach Lewis added 14. Jordan Heath had a game-high 12 rebounds for the visiting team.
Iona is back in action Sunday in a quick turnaround vs. Siena at the Hynes Center. The Maroon & Gold tips off with the Saints at 5:00 pm.