NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Despite a second consecutive strong effort from junior point guard Marina Lizarazu, the Iona College women’s basketball team dropped its home opener to the visiting Virginia Commonwealth Rams, 58-74.
The game started with a flurry for VCU as they jumped out to a 15-4 lead in less than five minutes. The Maroon & Gold managed to climb back into contest due in large part to Aaliyah Robinson being a spark, both offensively and defensively, off the bench. The Gaels held the Rams scoreless for the final five minutes in the opening quarter, and as a result let 16-15 entering the second.
Freshman Treyanna Clay had seven early points and acted as the catalyst for the early Iona surge. Clay led the team and set career highs in points and rebounds, finishing with 15 and seven.
The stingy defense that carried Iona back into the game earlier switched benches come the second quarter. Entering the frame down one, Head Coach Beth O’Boyle guided her Rams to a 15-3 run that stretched nearly the entire second stanza. In the end, VCU outscored the Gaels 17-9 during the lopsided stretch, and entered the locker room with a 32 to 25 lead.
The lone field goals recorded by the Gaels in the second frame came from beyond the arc; they missed six layups, and didn’t attempt any shots within the paint following a missed layup by Alexis Lewis at the 5:40 mark.
Much like the season opener against Stony Brook, Head Coach Billi Godsey rallied the Maroon & Gold in the locker room during break, and as a result the team came out animated to start the second half. The Gaels quickly tied the score at 32 with buckets from Clay and Lizarazu, but four straight free throws from the Rams quelled the momentum gathered.
The remainder of the third quarter belonged to the visitors; VCU would build up to a fifteen point lead, largely on the back of senior Adeaze Alaeze. The Rams had a 52 to 38 lead entering the final ten minutes of play.
A late run in the fourth quarter narrowed the final scoring margin, but for the majority of the fourth, it was once again dominated by VCU. In the final three minutes, Iona was able to get scores from Clay, Lizarazu and sophomore Ashley Murray to end their second game of the season on a high note.
The Maroon & Gold shot 35.8% from the floor, and 27.3% from beyond the arc for the game. As a team Iona committed 22 turnovers and succeeded in stealing only three VCU possessions away. The Gaels did out rebound the Rams 38 to 36 in the contest, due in large parts to Clay’s and senior Joy Adam’s efforts; they combined for 13 total.
VCU had all five of their starters in double figures, led by Alaeze and junior Camille Calhoun, each of whom finished with 16 points. Juniors Ashley Pegram had 12 points and 11 points respectively, and junior Keira Robinson wrapped it up with 10 points.
Rams managed the Iona grieety ball pressure well, committing only nine turnovers and assisting on 15 of their 26 field goals.
Iona’s next game will be in Chapel Hill, NC as part of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Challenge. The Gaels will tip off against Yale on Friday, Nov. 20th at 8 PM.