Iona 79, Niagara 72
How Iona Won: The Gaels dominated the inside, making it imperative for Niagara to shoot it well from the outside. That didn't happen. The Purple Eagles launched 33 shots from behind the arc and made just seven. They were 21 of 36 on two-pointers. What's more, Niagara scored just 12 points off 14 Iona turnovers.
Player of the Game: David Laury, Iona's 6-8 sophomore forward, was sensational. He had 20 points and 17 rebounds, giving him 44 points and 33 rebounds in two games against the Purple Eagles.
Best Supporting Role: Taaj Ridley, Laury's front-court mate, is benefiting from the room that opens because of Laury's presence. His 16 points were two off his season high.
Best Player (Losing Effort): With Tahjere McCall out injured, Marvin Jordan played all but a few seconds, scored 11 points and handed out six assists. And no turnovers.
Ellis Island: The Gaels don't develop freshman. They scour the country for players looking to transfer. Momo Jones came from Arizona. Tavon Sledge from Iowa State. Ridley, Laury and Tre Bowman were juco players. The only Gaels who came straight from high school: freshman A.J. English and junior Sean Armand.
Stat Check: Iona shot just five second-half threes to Niagara's 15. They both made two.
What It Means: Iona, an NCAA at-large team last year, looks to secure a second straight trip to The Dance with a win in Monday night's MAAC title game against Manhattan. The Jaspers are only the second No. 6 seed to tourney history to make the final. Niagara will play in the NIT, its prize for winning the conference regular-season crown.
They Said It
Niagara's Antoine Mason picked up his third foul when Momo Jones drew a charge with 6:17 remaining. Here's Jones:
"I've known him since I was a young kid. He's a power player. I knew he wanted to go right and I kept telling coach, 'Coach, all he wants to do is go right. All he wants to do is go right.' That was just the mindset. Make him go right. Take a charge. I think he had maybe two or three at that time and I knew if I could get that charge he would slow down and not be as aggressive as he was. I think that charge really set him back and he wasn't as aggressive as he was early on."
Iona coach Tim Cluess: "When we have four of five guys giving us good contributions and other guys coming off our bench and helping us in different roles then we're a pretty good basketball team. And right now we're a pretty good team."
Niagara coach Joe Mihalich: "Our hearts our broken. At the same time, as I said to the guys, at the same time there's a lot of guys whose hearts are broken and they've turned their uniforms in. We're not doing that."
Mason on Niagara's second-half shooting woes: "We just didn't hit them in the second half. The first half everything was going in. We got to make sure if it's not going in we got to mix it up."
-- Bob DiCesare
taggedCollege basketball | Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference | NCAA Tournament | Niagara