Second Half Spark Leads Iona MBB Past UCSB In Vegas

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NEW ROCHELLE, NY — The Iona College men’s basketball team outscored UC Santa Barbara 41-26 in the second half on the way to a 73-57 victory on the opening day of the South Point Holiday Classic in Las Vegas earlier today.

After UC Santa Barbara cut the Gaels lead to three points at 56-53 with 9:15 remaining in regulation, the Maroon & Gold finished the contest on a 17-4 run to earn a 16-point win. Jordan Washington led the charge with seven points during the run while the defense forced four turnovers.

Deyshonee Much posted his first career double-double behind a game-high 17 points and a career-best 10 rebounds to lead the Gaels (8-3). Washington also added a double-double, his second of the season, with 14 points and 10 rebounds in just 16 minutes of action. Schadrac Casimir totaled all 11 of his points in the second half.

UC Santa Barbara placed four players in double-figures, led by 13 from Gabe Vincent. Vincent also added five rebounds while converting four free throws and three 3-point field goals. Jarriesse Blackmon and Clifton Powell each added 11 points off the bench in the effort.

The Gauchos controlled the early portion of the contest as Powell lifted the team to a 9-5 lead just under five minutes into the first half. Iona battled back as Washington finished a jumper and a free throw to give Iona a 12-9 advantage.

After UC Santa Barbara went ahead for the third time at 23-22 with 5:45 remaining until halftime, the Gaels put together a 10-0 run capped off by a Much alley-oop from Sam Cassell Jr. Following the storyline of the first half, the Gauchos responded to cut the deficit to one point at the break as Jalen Canty tipped home a rebound as time expired.

Much and Vincent matched the half-high with eight points to lead their respective teams. The Gauchos kept the lead within striking distance by controlling a 22-13 rebounding advantage that led to 12 second chance points. However, slight margins in free throw and 3-point shooting kept the Maroon & Gold in control.

Prior to the Iona run with less than 10 minutes remaining in the second half, UC Santa Barbara tied the game twice more that included the opening point of the half, a free throw from Blackmon. However, the Gaels reversed the rebounding battle in the second half to take a 25-19 advantage on the glass while holding the Gauchos to just seven second chance points.

The final run from Iona was also inspired by Casimir and Much scoring 20 of the team’s 23 bench points in the final 20 minutes. Tyrell Williams added the other three points in addition to two rebounds while contributing nine strong minutes of action.

The Maroon & Gold kept UC Santa Barbara scoreless in the final 3:59 to help increase the lead to game-high 16 points with 12 seconds remaining after Washington finished off a three-rebound possession for the Gaels.

Iona held the Gauchos to 33.9 percent shooting from the club, just shy of an opponent-low for the season. The Gael defense also forced 18 turnovers, aided by five steals from Rickey McGill.

The Maroon & Gold quickly return to action tomorrow afternoon to conclude the two-day tournament in Las Vegas. The Gaels are scheduled for a 12:00 pm tip-off against Towson inside the South Point Arena.