CEDAR FALLS, IA - A slow second half start plagued the Iona College men's basketball team in a 90-78 loss at Northern Iowa in non-conference action at the McLeod Center. In his first collegiate start rookie Ryden Hines poured in 19 points to lead four double-digit scorers for the Gaels (5-6).
Hines scored 15 of his 19 points in the first half. He shot 7-of-9 from the field for the game and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. The Anchorage, AK native added three rebounds, an assist and a steal in 26 minutes of play. Senior Sean Armand added 18 points while classmates DaShawn Gomez and Mike Poole added 14 and 11 respectively. Gomez' 14 points was a career-best for the second-year Gael while Poole's 11 was his highest output in 11 games in Maroon & Gold.
Northern Iowa (6-6) jumped out to a 10-point, 27-17 lead midway through the first half on Wes Washpun's layup with 9:49 remaining. The Panthers led by as many as 11 points with 6:17 to go on Deon Mitchell's fourth three-pointer of the half. Armand answered with a three-ball of his own 14 seconds later and less than three minutes later capped a 14-3 run with a layup to even the score at 39-39. Iona trailed 49-47 at the half.
After beginning the frame with buckets on two of its first three possessions the Gaels went ice cold offensively. Northern Iowa scored seven straight points over the next three minutes. Iona was 0-for-8 from the field, 0-of-2 from the line and committed a turnover before a Poole jumper at 14:46 ended a near five-minute scoring drought. The Panthers' run extended to 17-2 during which Iona was 1-for-15 with five turnovers.
Down 15 with 10:32 to play, Armand began to solve Iona's offensive woes by scoring eight of the Gaels next 11 points as Iona got within seven points with 8:12 remaining. Following two free throws, Armand was whistled for a fourth foul and was inexplicably issued a technical foul for his reaction to the play and was disqualified with 7:57 left in the contest. Failing to score on its next three possessions, the Gaels trailed 76-64 with 6:53 on the clock. Back-to-back three-pointers by Gomez and Pool cut the deficit to six at the 4:40 mark but that's as close as the Maroon & Gold would get in the 12-point defeat on the road.
Mitchell had 20 points and seven assists to lead Northern Iowa. Nate buss scored 19 points and grabbed seven boards off the bench, shooting 7-for-12 from the field. Chip Rank had 14 points while leading scorer Seth Tuttle posted 11 points, 15 rebounds and six assists in the win.
After shooting 60.0% in the first half, the Gaels shot just 34.5% in the second. Northern Iowa shot 51.7% for the game and held a 33-30 advantage on the boards.
Iona lost its fourth straight game, matching its longest skid under head coach Tim Cluess. Following four in a row (fittingly three on the road and one at home) in 2010-11, the Gaels ripped off nine-straight wins before falling in the MAAC Championship game that season.
The Maroon & Gold returns to MAAC play next Thursday (Jan. 2) at Quinnipiac.
Box Score: http://www.icgaels.com/fls/14900/stats/mbasketball/2013-14/ion1228.htm
Iona MBB Cumulative Stats: http://www.icgaels.com/fls/14900/stats/mbasketball/2013-14/teamcume.pdf