NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- A valiant second half comeback came up just short as the Iona College women's basketball team fell to Fairfield 74-62 Thursday evening at the Hynes Athletics Center.
Senior guard Damika Martinez scored a game-high 28 points in the contest, knocking down 12 field goals in the process, one shy of matching a season high. Martinez has now scored 2,535 points in her career, and sits tied for 47th on the all-time Division I scoring list.
Despite connecting on 10 field goals from behind the arc, Iona was unable to stop the Fairfield post players, as the Stags racedk up 38 points in the paint, including 22 in the first half.
The Gaels were behind for the majority of the first half, and trailed by as many as 11 midway through the period. After Iona cut the deficit to five, 29-24, with 3:20 left in the frame, Fairfield ended the first on a 9-2 run, and grabbed a 38-26 lead at intermission on a last second layup by Casey Smith.
In the second half, the Gaels trimmed the deficit to seven, 42-35, with 14:32 left before the Stags once again took a 12 point lead, 48-36. Iona answered with the game's next nine points, including seven from Martinez, to cut the margin to three, 48-45.
Fairfield regained a seven point lead, 52-45, before an 11-4 charge by the Maroon & Gold evened the game at 56 with 7:16 left. Martinez contributed eight of the 11 points during the run, and registered 22 points during the second half in total.
The Stags responded with the game's next 11 points, taking a 67-56 lead on a free throw by Smith with 2:04 remaining. After being held scoreless for nearly six minutes, Iona stopped the Fairfield charge with a Martinez three-pointer with 1:21 on the clock.
Fairfield connected on 49.2% of its attempts to 42.4% for the Gaels, and held a 13-2 advantage on points from the charity stripe. Smith led the Stags with 19 points and nine assists, and was one of four Fairfield starters in double figures.
Iona now sits as the fourth seed in the 2015 MAAC Championship, and wraps up the regular season Saturday when it hosts Niagara at 2:00 pm.