NEW ROCHELLE, NY — The Iona College men’s basketball team fell to UC Santa Barbara 80-76 in its opening contest at the South Point Holiday Classic at South Point Arena. Five Gaels tallied double-digit point totals led by senior Isaiah Williams’ 17 in the loss.
The Gaels trailed by 14 points early in the contest as Santa Barbara took an early 24-10 lead just over eight minutes into the contest. Iona scored 16 straight points to take a 26-24 lead however as they held the Gauchos scoreless for more than seven minutes. After Iona took the lead with 5:54 left on a conventional three-point play by freshman Jahaad Proctor, the two teams traded leads five times along with an additional four tie scores. Senior Aaron Rountree’s elbow jumper gave Iona a 36-35 advantage at the 2:29 mark. UCSB scored the final six points of the half to take a 41-36 lead into halftime.
Williams’ driving layup with 13:43 to play was the seventh and final tie of the contest as Santa Barbara held a low single-digit lead throughout the second half. Sophomore Deyshonee Much cut the deficit to 58-57 with 8:31 to play, but six straight Gaucho points made it a seven point game with less than seven minutes left. With 2:11 left, the Gaels trailed by seven and chiseled away to within one point with under a minute to play. A tip-in by UCSB made it 79-76 with less than 22 seconds remaining. A second straight late game-tying three-pointer was not in the cards in Vegas for Much though and after a foul on the rebound, Santa Barbara held on to the four-point win.
Williams scored 17 points despite a tough shooting effort in the game. He was 6-of-16 from the field and 3-of-12 from beyond the arc. He added five rebounds and two assists. Much posted 16 points, recoding four three pointers and sinking all four free throw attempts. He added four rebounds and a steal. Washington recorded 12 points and five rebounds, while senior Ibn Muhammad posted a career-high 11 points and three three-pointers to go along with five assists and four rebounds in the loss. Freshman Jahaad Proctor came off the bench to score 10 points and grab five boards.
UCSB’s Michael Bryson scored a game-high 29 points with the help of a 10-for-11 effort from the charity stripe. Freshman Maxwell Kupchak had 10 points for the Gauchos.
The Gauchos held a slim shooting (45.0% – 44.1%), rebounding (41-39) and turnover (8-11) edge on the Gaels. The biggest difference was a rough performance from the charity stripe for the Maroon & Gold as they converted just 13-of-23 shot attempts in the game. UCSB was 21-of-28 (75.0%) in the win.
Iona completes play in Las Vegas tomorrow against Akron at 3:00 pm ET.