NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- The Iona College women's basketball team dropped its season-opener at the University of Arizona on Friday afternoon by a final score of 71-58. Junior All-MAAC Preseason First Team honoree Alexis Lewis and freshman Toyosi Abiola combined for 41 points. Lewis begins the season with her 12th career double-double.
The Wildcats jumped ahead with strong second and third quarters where they outscored the Gaels 39 to 19. They shot 52% over that specific twenty-minute stretch. Arizona began the second quarter on a 9-2 run and were stout defensively, holding the Maroon & Gold to six points in the entire frame on 21.4% shooting.
Iona trailed 30-20 at halftime. Both teams struggled to shoot the three, combining to go just 5-for-22 in the first half. The Wildcats had 10 points off of eight Gael turnovers.
The Wildcats jumped out with robust run in the third quarter that pinned Iona against the wall. Arizona grew its lead to as large as 21 with 3:26 to go in the third.
Trailing by 20 entering the final frame, the Maroon & Gold lurched a comeback attempt sparked by its backcourt. Lewis and Abiola both erupted in the fourth quarter with nine points apiece. Lewis scored 16 of her game-high 21 points in the second half.
With the tandems' effort, Iona got to within eight with 1:39 to go before a timely triple from Arizona's freshman guard Sam Thomas put the game out of reach.
Five players scored in double figures for Arizona, including four of its starters. The Wildcats leading scorer was rookie Marlee Kyles coming off the bench for 17 points on 6-for-13 shooting.
Sophomore Amelia Motz scored a career-high eight points off the bench for Iona; she also had three assists. Fellow second-year player Tilasha Okey-Williams had three points off the bench and a career-high four assists. Starting two-guard Abiola shot 7-for-15 and scored 20 points in 39 minutes as part of a strong collegiate debut.
Iona shot 38.9% from the floor and 21.7% from long range. While the Maroon & Gold connected on 73.3% of its free throws, the Wildcats banged home 22-of-26 from the charity stripe.
Following this afternoon's result, Arizona leads the all-time series against Iona, 3-1.
Iona flies back to the east coast tonight and will take the court against the Jacksonville Dolphins on Monday, Nov. 13. The game is being aired live on WATCHESPN and ESPN3.