NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Despite seeing a 21-point lead dwindle to just one in the final seconds, Iona was able to survive against Saint Joseph’s and earn a hard fought 58-57 victory. Senior Marina Lizarazu had a game-high 21 points, including a pair of clutch moments in the fourth quarter to lift the Gaels to a 2-0 start in the 2016-17 season.
The Maroon & Gold entered the fourth quarter with a 48-27 lead. As the final frame progressed, Saint Joseph’s found its offensive groove and outscored the Gaels 30 to 10. The Hawks shot 47.4% in the fourth after hitting below 30% in each of the first three periods. Sophomore Sarah Veilleux made two triples in the quarter, bringing her team within striking distance of an improbable comeback.
With just three seconds left, Hawks sophomore Alyssa Monaghan hit a three-point field goal while fouled. With three seconds on the clock, she stepped to the line with the chance to tie. The free throw attempt rattled in and out, and Iona was able to exhale when the rebound fell into the hands of sophomore Alexis Lewis as the final buzzer sounded.
The Gaels bought themselves a large cushion entering the fourth by playing stifling defense over the first three quarters. After keeping Stony Brook to just 14 points in the second half last game on Friday, Nov. 11, Iona suffocated Saint Joseph’s to just 18 points in the first half tonight, and 27 over the first 30 minutes. The Hawks finished 31.7% for the game.
Lizarazu was the stabling force for the Gaels in the fourth quarter. With 22 seconds left, she put in a crucial left-handed lefty floater to give Iona a 55-51 lead. She then made two trips to the free throw line over the last 16 seconds left to keep the cushion at four leading up to the final moments. The MAAC Preseason Player of the Year ended the game with a season-high 21 points, shooting 7-18 from the floor, and 5-6 from the free throw line. She also added in five rebounds, four steals, and three assists.
Lewis had 16 points, hitting on 7-12 from the floor, and 2-4 from beyond the arc. Defensively she contributed one steal and one assist. Senior Karynda DuPree had a team-high and season-high 10 rebounds with five blocks.
Iona committed 19 turnovers, nine of which came in the fourth quarter. Saint Joseph’s scored 17 points off those turnovers. The Hawks also had a huge advantage with 15 offensive rebounds, allowing for 12 second chance points compared to just two for the Gaels. Junior Adashia Franklyn had a game-high 12 rebounds, seven of which were offensive.
The Gaels shot 43.1% for the game, hitting on 6-12 from beyond the arc and 8-10 from the free throw line.
The Duquesne Dukes travel to the Hynes Center on Saturday, Nov. 19 for a 2 PM tip-off. It’s the second straight game against an A-10 opponent for Iona.