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MARIST MONDAY: Red Fox men crash hard against Iona (w/video)

By Ted Remsnyder
HVSR Staff

POUGHKEEPSIE – The Marist College men’s basketball team got the chance on Sunday to measure themselves against the best team in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and the result was dispiriting – an 86-67 home loss to Iona.

The Red Foxes (11-17, 8-10 MAAC) actually held a one-point lead early in the second half before Iona stepped on the gas and took control of the game. With the MAAC Tournament in Springfield, Massachusetts beginning in less than two weeks, the loss was part learning experience and part reality check for Marist.

“You always have something to learn from in games like these,” said Red Foxes freshman point guard Khallid Hart, who led the team with 18 points. “Obviously we have to work on our defense, and make shots and rebound the ball.”

The day got off to a rough start for Marist, as two-fifths of the starting lineup, junior guards Chavaughn Lewis and T.J. Curry, arrived late to the game and were benched to begin the game by coach Jeff Bower.

“They were late,” Bower said. “It’s not the story of the year, but they were late. That’s something we’ve talked about in the past and moving forward that was my decision.”

Marist trailed 12-10 at the 14:18 mark of the first half when Lewis and Curry entered the lineup and Lewis (17 points) quickly tied the score at 12-12 with 13:30 left in the half on a driving layup off the glass. A 6-0 Iona (19-8, 16-2 MAAC) run that finished with a DaShawn Gomez layup gave the Gaels a 24-13 lead with 10:44 remaining in the half, but the Red Foxes would fight back. After Bower picked up a technical following an Adam Kemp flagrant foul with 6:45 left in the half, Iona hit two of four free throws to take a 31-20 lead. But the commotion seemed to inspire Marist.

“We did come out of that and play our best six to eight minutes of the game,” Bower said.

A Hart floater followed by a Lewis reverse layup cut the Gaels’ lead to 39-34 at the 2:12 mark of the first. After a Tre Bowman (11 points) layup put Iona up 41-34 with 1:28 left before intermission, Hart scored two big baskets to keep Marist in the game. Hart first converted a fast break layup off a Manny Thomas assist with 48 seconds left in the half, before driving hard to the hoop for a layup with 31 seconds to go to cut the lead to 41-38 as the teams headed to the break.

The Red Foxes came flying out of the gate in the second half, as back-to-back Lewis dunks gave Marist a 45-44 lead with 18:23 remaining. But Iona, featuring the highest-powered offense in the conference, soon quashed the Red Foxes’ upset bid. A 7-0 run that culminated in an Isaiah Williams (10 points) corner three gave the Gaels a 54-46 lead with 16:19 to go. After Lewis slid through the lane for a layup to cut the lead to 54-48 at the 15:49 mark, a 6-0 Iona run put them up 60-48 with 14:03 left on the clock as junior forward David Laury (22 points) corralled a loose ball under the basket for a layup.

With Iona putting the clamps down on defense and scoring at will, the game was soon out of reach. A Laury lefty layup capped a 6-0 Gaels’ run to make it 73-54 with 6:59 remaining and the rout was on.

“In the first half we felt like they were getting to the basket at will, so coach really got on us and said we needed to stop them,” Iona sophomore guard A.J. English (22 points) said. “Then we put the ball in the basket.”

Iona clearly imposed its will in the second half and outscored the Red Foxes 42-22 after Marist’s brief lead.

“I think we saw a lot of the reason why Iona is at 16-2 now and leading the conference in the MAAC,” Bower said. “Their explosiveness from the perimeter as far as three-point shooting. The ability of Laury to make plays and put you in an unconventional nature. I thought they had a lot of productivity today obviously. Their rebounding on the offensive boards was a major thing that hurt us, in the second half especially.”

With Marist now in the seventh spot in the MAAC standings with two games to go in the regular season, the Red Foxes will have probably have to win out and receive some outside help in order to leapfrog Siena and Rider to get into the top five and gain a crucial first-round tourney bye.

“I’m sure there are positive to come out of this game, I just haven’t been able to come up with a long list of them yet,” Bower said.  “I know they’re there, but I’m a little stung by a number of things that have clouded over the positives today. But we’ll find them in the next 12 to 24 hours.”

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