NEW ROCHELLE, NY - The Iona College men's basketball team clinched the No. 2 seed in next weekend's Spark Energy MAAC Championship with a 74-69 win over first place Fairfield in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action at the Hynes Center. A capacity crowd saw the Gaels (20-10, 13-5 MAAC) hold off the Stags (23-6, 15-3 MAAC) on Senior Day.
Four players tallied double-figures for the Gaels led by junior Scott Machado's (Queens, NY) 15 points. Though converting just three field goals, Machado shot 7-for-10 from the line including 5-of-6 in the final five minutes. Senior Rashon Dwight (Newark, NJ) posted 12 points while juniors Mike Glover (Bronx, NY) and Jermel Jenkins (Union, NJ) had 10 a piece for the Maroon & Gold. Glover completed his 16th double-double of the year with 13 rebounds while Jenkins added a team-high six assists off the bench. Sophomore Kyle Smyth (River Edge, NJ) added nine points and senior Alejo Rodriguez (New York, NY) had eight points and eight boards and shot 4-of-5 from the field. He finished the regular season converting 23-of-his-last-26 field goal attempts.
Iona never trailed in the contest and took the lead for good on Machado three-pointer at 15:49 in the first half that made the score 9-6. After Fairfield senior Warren Edney's free throw cut Iona's lead to 14-11, the Gaels went on a 10-3 run to take a double-digit advantage on Jenkins' three-ball with 8:23 remaining in the first frame. Dwight's free throw with 50 seconds remaining put Iona ahead 36-24 and gave the squad its largest lead of the half. Iona went into the break with an 11-point lead.
Leading by 54-39 with 11:13 remaining, Fairfield scored 12 straight points over the next three minutes to cut the deficit to three points. After an Iona timeout, a Glover dunk and two Jenkins free throws put the margin at seven points. Nursing a single-digit advantage down the stretch, Fairfield Lyndon Jordan hit a three-pointer with 42 seconds left to get the visitors the closest it would get at 70-68. Smyth followed with two free throws and Jordan was only able to convert 1-of-3 attempts after being fouled on another three-point attempt. Junior Trinity Fields (Queens, NY) converted a breakaway layup on the in bound to make the final margin a five-point Iona victory.
Fairfield freshman Jamel Fields scored 15 of his game-high 21 points in the second half, shooting 5-for-10 from the field and 8-for-10 from the charity stripe. Fields had a team-leading three three-pointers in the loss. Edney also had a big second frame with 10 of his 12 points in the contest. Junior Ryan Olander posted 13 points while freshman Maurice Barrow led with seven boards.
Iona out shot Fairfield 50.0%-39.6% in the contest and held a 41-31 advantage on the boards.
The Maroon & Gold ends the regular season in a tie for second place in the standings with Rider. The Gaels earned the tiebreaker by virtue of its two victories this year over fourth-place Saint Peter's. Iona will take on the winner of No. 7 Siena and No. 10 Manhattan on Saturday (Mar. 5) at 7:30 pm in a televised game on MSG+ at Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, CT.