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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, March 9, 4:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: MassMutual Center (7,552) -- Springfield, Massachusetts. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Canisius 9-3, Iona 11-2. Away Record: Canisius 9-7, Iona 9-7. Neutral Record: Canisius 3-1, Iona 1-0. Conference Record: Canisius 14-6, Iona 17-3. Series Record: Iona leads, 34-29.
GAME NOTES: The Iona Gaels continue their quest towards repeating as Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament champions, as they take on the Canisius Golden Griffins in the semifinals of the 33rd annual event at the MassMutual Center.
The top seed in this year's tourney, the Gaels already have the most championships among current league members with eight, the most recent stemming from a 60-57 decision against Manhattan last season. This time around Iona kicked off the festivities with a convincing 94-71 romp over the Rider Broncs, the second time in a span of six days that the Gaels have beaten up on that particular opponent.
As for the fourth-seeded Golden Griffins, a team which has not celebrated a championship in this event since a 1996 triumph over Fairfield (52-46), they managed to even their all-time record in the tourney at 23-23 on Saturday afternoon thanks to a 71-65 victory versus Siena.
During the regular season the teams split their two meetings, each posting a victory on the road. On Jan. 17 the Griffs slipped by in an 85-83 final at the Hynes Center in New Rochelle thanks to Billy Baron who erupted for 29 points and eight assists, while A.J. English carried the load at the Koessler Center for Iona less than a month later as he tallied 32 points, six assists and five rebounds in a 101-91 outing.
With each side coming up with a victory during the regular season, Iona's advantage in the all-time series still stands at five games, 34-29. One of those wins for the Gaels came in the championship round of the 2001 tournament when the team dropped Canisius by a score of 74-67.
The survivor of this meeting will head back to the hardwood on Monday night to play in the championship round versus the winner of the Quinnipiac/Manhattan battle for the right to represent the MAAC in the NCAA Tournament.
Baron tallied 17 points, leading all five starters in double figures, as the Golden Griffins took out the Siena Saints by six points in the quarterfinals of the MAAC Tournament in Springfield on Saturday afternoon. Baron, an All- MAAC First-Team selection who was recently named the MAAC Player of the Year, added six assists and five steals for the fourth-seeded Golden Griffs in the triumph. Chris Manhertz registered a double-double with 10 points and a game- high 11 rebounds, Chris Perez pitched in 13 points, Jordan Heath added 11 and Zach Lewis 10 points to go along with four assists and four steals in the triumph. In a game that saw 11 ties and 21 lead changes, the Griffs connected on 10-of-22 behind the 3-point line in order to combat 16 turnovers.
Iona scored the first points of the game against the Broncs on Saturday and never looked back, going from 55.6 percent shooting from the floor in the first half and a 50-34 advantage at the break, to 64.0 percent over the final 20 minutes in order to cruise to the 23-point triumph. Tre Bowman led a quartet of double-digit scorers with 28 points, followed by Sean Armand with another 20 as the duo combined to shoot 9-of-16 behind the 3-point line. David Laury gave the group a huge lift off the bench, hitting the paint so he could come away with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Isaiah Williams chipped in 12 points. English was rather reserved with his six points and six assists, the team posting assists on 20 of its 31 field goals.
Baron is going to do all he can to get the Golden Griffins to the next level of this tournament, but he cannot do it all by himself. Unfortunately, the talent on the other side of the ledger is simply too strong right now and even if Canisius can slow down one of two Iona stars, there are still several other options for the Gaels.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iona 84, Canisius 73
03/09 10:22:46 ET
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