Iona (18-8) at Marist (11-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, February 23, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: McCann Center (3,200) -- Poughkeepsie, New York. Television: None. Home Record: Iona 10-2, Marist 8-3. Away Record: Iona 8-6, Marist 3-10. Neutral Record: Iona 0-0, Marist 0-3. Conference Record: Iona 15-2, Marist 8-9. Series Record: Iona leads, 39-16.
GAME NOTES: The top team in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference hits the hardwood this afternoon, as the Iona Gaels challenge the Marist Red Foxes at the McCann Center.
The Gaels may not have the best overall record this season of any team in the MAAC, but the squad is still a sensational 15-2 in league play with the end of the regular season now just a week away. The team has rattled off an impressive 10 straight wins, thanks to a narrow 80-77 final versus Rider just two nights ago in New Jersey.
Meanwhile, Marist is a team that is in the middle of the pack when it comes to the standings, winning eight of 17 league bouts. On Thursday night, the program was tripped up by Saint Peter's on the road by just a single point, 58-57, snapping a brief two-game win streak.
In terms of the all-time series, Iona leads by a count of 39-16 after the Gaels won the first meeting of the season way back on Dec. 4 by a score of 83-74 at home.
Iona led by as many as 14 in the second half, yet the team needed some late free throws by A.J. English to give them some breathing room in the three- point victory over Rider just two nights ago. English finished with 20 points, matching teammate Sean Armand for the game high, although the former shot just 5-of-16 from the field, including 1-of-8 behind the 3-point line. Tre Bowman accounted for 14 points, as did David Laury who also cleared 12 rebounds and handed out four assists off the bench.
English and Armand are now neck-and-neck when it comes to leading the Gaels in scoring, as each produces 17.7 ppg, while the former has tallied one more point in total through 26 games. Not only does the pair put the ball in the basket, they also make sure that teammates have the same opportunities as they combine for 214 of the unit's 456 assists. As a group, the Gaels are one of the most unselfish teams in the country, producing 17.8 apg to rank in the top-five.
In the first half alone, Marist saw a 17-point swing during Thursday night's meeting with the Peacocks, eventually falling to Saint Peter's by a single point on the road. Except for T.J. Curry who finished with six points, every starter finished in double figures for the visitors, as Khallid Hart tallied 15 points and Jay Bowie had 12 and a game-high 10 rebounds. Chavaughn Lewis and Adam Kemp pitched in with 11 points apiece, as the team hurt itself with just 8-of-18 shooting at the free-throw line.
Although he is shooting just 39.0 percent from the field and 29.1 percent behind the 3-point line these days, Lewis is still the top scoring threat for the Red Foxes with 17.1 ppg, thanks in large part to his efforts at the free- throw line (124-of-169). In addition to being a solid scoring threat, Lewis also paces the program with 76 assists and 53 steals, and is one of the better rebounders on the unit with five boards per contest.
Coming into the weekend the magic number for the Gaels to clinch the regular season title was just two, so expect the squad to move closer to that goal after a road win this afternoon.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iona 77, Marist 66
02/23 10:19:30 ET