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Iona Makes Statement, Takes Control of MAAC

The Iona College men’s basketball team made a statement this past week that the road to the regular season title goes through New Rochelle, New York.

Photo By: Brian Westerholt - Sports On Film

Photo By: Brian Westerholt – Sports On Film

 

The Iona College men’s basketball team made a statement this past week that the road to the regular season title goes through New Rochelle, New York.

The Gaels Schadrac Casimir scored 24 points (7 for 14 shooting) and Vangelis Bebis poured in a career-best 16 points (5 for 10 shooting) to lead Iona to a well-deserved 78-68 win at Rider on Thursday, January 22.

The win over upstart Rider, combined with the Gaels 87-64 win over Niagara on January 25, put them in sole possession of first place in the MAAC.

Rider got off to strong start in battle for the top spot in the MAAC, but Iona rallied to score the final 13 points of the half and held a 41-33 at the break.

The Broncs closed to within a single point, 63-62 with 6:43 left in regulation, but that would be as close as they would get as Casimir and Bebis hit clutch shots down the stretch.

Matt Lopez led the Broncs with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Xavier Lundy added 14 points while Teddy Okereafor chipped in with 11.

David Laury recorded his 10th double-double of the year with 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Gaels.

At the halfway mark in the MAAC regular season the Gaels appear to be in control of their own destiny with Rider, Monmouth, Canisius and Manhattan in hot pursuit.

Iona has a rematch with second place Monmouth (7-3) on February 22 and a home and away series remaining with a streaking Manhattan Jaspers (6-4) squad.

Rider and Canisius have concluded their regular season series with Iona and need help to overtake the Gaels.

 

MAAC Men’s Musings:

 

Iona College men’s basketball Schadrac Casimir earned his fifth MAAC Rookie of the Week honor of the season. Casimir averaged 16.0 points, 3.0 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 steals.

Casimir was the first freshman to win MAAC Player of the Week honors since Canisius’ Darrell Barley received the honor in 1994.

Iona’s David Loury leads the MAAC in scoring at 23.2 ppg. Loury is followed by Quinnipiac’s Zaid Hurst at 41.4 ppg. Loury’s teammate AJ English is third at 20.4 ppg.

Quinnipiac’s Ousmane Drame was named ECAC New England Player of the Week.

Drame extended his double-double streak to six straight last week while also helping Quinnipiac score victories in both games. He averaged 13.5 points, 15.0 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game, securing his nation-leading 13th and 14th double-doubles of the season.

Coach Steve Masiello’s surging (win 7 of last 10) Manhattan Jaspers have a tough weekend as they host Siena (5-5) this evening, and then travel to Monmouth on Sunday, February 2.

The Jaspers are a tough out at home, having a 5-1 record at cozy Draddy Gymnasium.

The MAAC men’s basketball championship (and Women’s) will held March 5-9 at the Times-Union Center in Albany, NY.

Manhattan is the defending MAAC tournament champion as they defeated Iona, 71-68, at the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield, MA.

 

MAAC Men’s Basketball Standings (January 30)

Iona                  8-2

Rider                8-3

Monmouth       7-3

Canisius           6-4

Manhattan       6-4

Siena                5-5

Quinnipiac       5-5

Fairfield           4-6

Saint Peter’s     4-7

Niagara            2-8

Marist              1-9

 

(Compiled with data from MAAC and member institution media releases)

Follow DoubleG college sports correspondent Bob Whitney on Twitter for all the pregame, game and postgame highlights: @WhitneyBob

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