NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- The No. 13 seed Iona College men's basketball team cut an 18-point second half deficit to within seven and possession but was held off by No. 4 Iowa State in the final 2:50 in a 94-81 defeat in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Championship at the Pepsi Center. Senior A.J. English had a team-high 28 points and junior Jordan Washington added 26 in the loss.
With 4:10 to play, English drove to the basket to score his 2,000th career point in Maroon & Gold. He finished his Iona career as the No. 3 scorer in school history behind father-son duo Steve Burtt Sr. and Steve Burtt Jr. English added seven rebounds, six assists and three steals. Washington had his second straight and fifth double-double of the season, adding a game-high 12 rebounds. Senior Isaiah Williams had nine points and four rebounds and sophomore Deyshonee Much posted nine points and four assists in the loss. Graduate Aaron Rountree posted six points and seven rebounds. Red shirt freshman Benjamin Nwokeabia accounted for the final three points, with a long distance connection as time expired. It was his first collegiate points.
Iowa State's starting five accounted for 92 of the team's 94 points, with all five in double-digit scoring. Senior All-American Georges Niang recorded 28 points and six rebounds, junior point guard Monte Morris had 20 points and eight assists, senior Abel Nader added 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting, junior guard Matt Thomas had 14 points and senior forward Jameel McKay had 11 points and nine rebounds for the Cyclones.
The Gaels jumped out to an early 5-0 advantage but surrendered 11 straight points and never led again. Iowa State led by as many as 15 points midway through the frame. An English floater with 2:28 to play in the first half made the score 40-33 but five straight Cyclone points to end the half made it a 12 point, 45-33 margin at the break.
With 12:58 to play, Norris hit a layup to give the Cyclones a 70-52 advantage. Iona outscored Iowa State 24-13 over the next 10:03 as two English free throws cut the deficit to 83-76 with 2:50 to play. The Cyclones scored 11 straight points in a 1:14 span including seven from the free throw line to regain the 18-point lead and seal the game. An English layup and a Nwokeabia three made the final score 94-81.
Iowa State outshot the Gaels 50.0%-48.4% connecting on one more field goal as each team had 64 attempts. The Cyclones made three more from beyond the arc than Iona and eight more from the charity stripe. The Gaels held a 37-35 advantage on the boards.
Iona completes the 2015-16 campaign with a 22-11 overall mark following its 10th official NCAA tournament appearance and league record ninth MAAC Championship. Four student-athletes completed their Maroon & Gold careers. English finished with 2,004 career points and Williams with 1,044, the 36th and 37th 1,000-point scorers in history. Rountree and senior Ibn Muhammad also appeared in their final collegiate contest.