St. Bonaventure (6-3) at Iona (5-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 14, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hynes Center (2,611) -- New Rochelle, New York. Television: None. Home Record: St. Bonaventure 4-0, Iona 3-0. Away Record: St. Bonaventure 0-2, Iona 2-2. Neutral Record: St. Bonaventure 2-1, Iona 0-0. Conference Record: St. Bonaventure 0-0, Iona 2-0. Series Record: St. Bonaventure leads, 10-5.
GAME NOTES: The Iona Gaels put a four-game win streak on the line Saturday in a non-conference showdown with the St. Bonaventure Bonnies.
The Bonnies own a 10-5 lead in the all-time series against the Gaels, though Iona took last year's meeting and is 3-0 against St. Bonaventure at the Hynes Center.
Iona has rattled off convincing victories over George Mason, Florida Gulf Coast, Marist and Fairfield since losing a 20-point decision to nationally- ranked Kansas in mid-November. In Sunday's 83-72 win over Fairfield, Sean Armand poured in 28 points as the Gaels rolled to a second consecutive conference win. Armand also handed out seven assists in the victory. David Laury tallied 19 points and 10 rebounds, and A.J. English also got in the mix with 18 points. Iona got out to a 48-37 lead at halftime by shooting 51.7 percent from the floor and never looked back, thanks to a 48-30 advantage in points in the paint.
Armand has been superb lately, tallying at least 20 points in four straight games, upping his team-high total to 22.1 ppg. Laury is nearly averaging a double-double with 15.1 ppg and 8.7 rpg to his credit, while English and Tre Bowman round out the leading scorers with 13.1 and 12.3 ppg, respectively. Behind that fearsome foursome, as well as a healthy 9.6 3-pointers per game, the Gaels are averaging nearly 80 points each time out and are connecting on 47.2 percent of their shots.
Whereas Iona has done its damage on the offensive end, the Bonnies have been stingy defensively, as they are giving up just 64.3 ppg. That kind of dominance was not on display last Saturday, however, as St. Bonaventure allowed Buffalo to make half of its field goal attempts in the second half en route to a 78-73 setback, the team's second in three games. Charlon Kloof tallied 17 points and five assists to lead the team, while Andell Cumberbatch posted a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Marquise Simmons added 16 points and seven boards. The Bulls outscored the Bonnies, 24-3, from beyond the arc as well as from the free-throw line (28-24). Leading scorer Matthew Wright was limited to nine points, eight below his season average.
The Bonnies have not been particularly effective behind the arc, making just 26.5 percent from long range, but have battled to get plenty of second-chance points behind nearly five more offensive rebounds per game than their opponents. Simmons has been vital in that area and is pulling down 6.0 rpg to go along with 9.8 ppg. Kloof and Cumberbatch check in with averages of 12.8 and 10.3 ppg, respectively.
The difference in this one could very well be determined by Iona's effectiveness from the perimeter. If the Gaels can get a few to fall, the Bonnies will have to jump out and defend rather than protect the rim. It's a battle of strengths, and since Iona is on a roll, the Gaels should come out victorious.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iona 77, St. Bonaventure 68
12/14 10:37:37 ET