Iona 101, Canisius 91
How Iona Won: The Gaels made it seven straight victories and avenged an earlier loss to the Griffs by playing their fast-paced, free-wheeling style to near perfection. They had David Laury work the inside early and pounded the Griffs from long range in the second half. It's as good an inside-outside mix as there is in the league and when the ball movement's brisk, as it was Sunday, the defending MAAC champs are an awfully tough out.
Turning Point: The Griffs were up five with just under 13 minutes left but Iona burst for eight straight points, six of them on threes by Isaiah Williams. Two ties later the Gaels went ahead for good on a layup by Williams.
Player of the Game: The Gaels lost guard MoMo Jones, the MAAC Player of the Year, to graduation last season. But who notices when his replacement, sophomore guard A.J. English, goes off for a career-high 32. English was Iona's glue in the first half, scoring 18 points, before the offense really got rolling.
Player of the Game, Losing Effort: Canisius got the norm from Billy Baron (23 points) and have seen Chris Perez (24 points) have games like this before. The unknown was freshman forward Phil Valenti filling in for the injured Chris Manhertz. Valenti exceled in his first start: 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists, no turnovers. Griffs could cause some matchup problems by giving him some minutes at the 3 spot. He has the athleticism.
Stat Check: Iona backup center David Laury defied the odds by going 9 of 11 at the foul line. He's a 53 percent free throw shooter.
What It Means: Iona's in the MAAC driver's seat, two games up with six to play. Canisius fell into a tie for second with Manhattan, which owns the tie-breaker advantage. It'll be a three-way tie for second if Quinnipiac beats visiting Marist Monday night.
In the House: They filled the KAC for the third time in the last four games. Apparently Jim Baron's pleas didn't fall on deaf ears.
Next Up: The Griffs head over the bridge for a Valentine's Night encounter with Niagara. The Griffs won the first meeting 87-74 but the Purple Eagles are sure to be focused and angry after suffering excrutiating one-point losses this weekend to Iona and Manhattan. It's a 9 p.m. start on ESPNU.
-- Bob DiCesare
taggedCanisius | College basketball | Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference