Fairfield (3-12) at Iona (6-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, January 10, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hynes Athletic Center (2,611) -- New Rochelle, New York. Television: None. Home Record: Fairfield 2-3, Iona 4-1. Away Record: Fairfield 1-6, Iona 2-6. Neutral Record: Fairfield 0-2, Iona 0-0. Conference Record: Fairfield 0-5, Iona 3-1. Series Record: Iona leads, 59-41.
GAME NOTES: The Fairfield Stags will try to win their first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference matchup of the season on Friday night when they travel to the Hynes Athletic Center to play the Iona Gaels.
Fairfield lost in heartbreaking fashion at home on Wednesday night to Saint Peter's, 56-55, on a last-second field goal. The Stags have struggled all season long, winning just three of their 15 contests, with losses in all five of their MAAC tilts.
Since beginning the season a promising 5-2, Iona has fallen flat in recent weeks by winning just one of its past six games to dip to 6-7 overall. The Gaels most recently dropped a 86-74 decision at Quinnipiac on Monday night, but they are still 3-1 in the MAAC and 4-1 on their home floor.
Iona got the best of Fairfield in the first meeting this season, winning 83-72 in Bridgeport to take a 59-41 lead in the all-time series.
The Stags saw their 17-point second-half lead slip away in the final 11 minutes of their most recent contest before falling victim to a devastating 3- pointer at the buzzer to remain winless in the MAAC. After shooting 46.2 percent from the field in the first half, they shot just 6-of-24 after intermission (.250). Justin Jenkins paced the losing effort with 16 points on 6-of-13 from the field, while Marcus Gilbert and Maurice Barrow poured in 10 points apiece.
Fairfield's offense has been sputtering all season long, as it shoots a lowly 37.9 percent from the field for 60.5 ppg, which all but negates its impressive field goal percentage defense (.398). Unsurprisingly, the squad has also had issues with turnovers, committing 4.1 more miscues per game than its opponents. Gilbert is the go-to scoring option with 13.6 ppg while leading the team with 29 3-pointers. Barrow is the only other player in double figures with 11.3 ppg.
Iona fell behind Quinnipiac by 15 points less than four minutes into its most recent contest and never got within single digits of the lead for the rest of the game. Although its field goal (.410) and free throw (.783) percentages weren't terrible, it wasn't enough to make up for the fact that it was outrebounded by a commanding 49-27 margin. A.J. English was outstanding in spite of the loss, scoring 27 points on 9-of-16 from the field (including 3- of-6 from 3-point range) and 6-of-8 from the free-throw line. Tre Bowman turned his 26 reserve minutes into 15 points, while David Laury and Sean Armand each netted 10.
On the season, the Gaels are fortunate enough to have one of the nation's highest-scoring offenses (82.4 ppg), but unfortunately their high-flying style allows for their opponents to put up nearly as many points (80.8 ppg). Their lack of presence on the boards (-6.2 rebounding margin) has come back to bite them as well. Armand is the go-to option with 20.4 ppg, while English is right on his heels with 16.7 ppg. The duo has been active and effective from beyond the arc, combining for 77 3-pointers at greater than a 43-percent clip. Laury mans the paint with 12.6 ppg and 7.7 rpg, while Bowman brings 12.3 ppg to the table.
While Iona's season overall hasn't been great, it has still performed well at home and in league play, and the Gaels should have more than enough firepower to blow past the lackluster Stags in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iona 81, Fairfield 63
01/10 10:15:46 ET