Photo courtest of Ionian Sports/Iona College
By David Cordova
Rematches are something that every team looks forward to. It is the second time around for both teams and the only objective is to win. One team can either repeat as a victor, or the other team can knock off the former winner at any moment.
In today’s game between the St. Peter’s Peacocks and the Iona Gaels, the main mission was to win in order to move into second place. On December 2nd, both teams squared off in an early season Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) battle at the Yanitelli Center in Jersey City, in which the Gaels ran away with a fourteen-point win, 79-65.
This time around, things were different as the Peacocks went 8-2 in conference play since that first game and has been one of the promising teams in the MAAC, while the Gaels have gone 6-4 since that meeting. Now in this game at the Hynes Athletic Center, the opportunity for the Gaels to move into second place was at an all-time high. After a game that saw an extra session, they would do just that.
Iona 69, St. Peter’s 66
Early on in the game, both teams started out trading baskets, but Iona was paced by Sam Cassell Jr.’s five straight points, as they went off to a 9-5 lead, with 15:58 to go in the first half. But St. Peter’s came back with eight consecutive points by Nnamdi Enechionyia and Nick Griffin to give them a 13-11 lead with 13 minutes left in the half.
Iona would then go on a 8-0 run over 2:14 to bring the score up to 19-13, with 10:45 to go in the half. But then St. Peter’s would go on another run, in which they end up leading by three, 22-19, with 7:36 to go after a three=pointer by Trevis Wyche.
As the game went on, both teams were shooting well from three-point range as it became mainly a shootout. The Peacocks then seized control of the game, eventually leading by seven, 32-25, with 1:47 left, after a jumper by Griffin. At the half, they would end up leading by four, 32-28.
The second half started with the Gaels firing on all cylinders, as they took over the lead, 36-34 after five straight points from Jon Severe and three from Cassell. But the Peacocks got back right moments later after a three-point play by Wyche to give them a 39-36 lead, with 16:08 to go.
Then Deyshonee Much would give Iona two straight three-pointers to give the Gaels a 44-41 lead with 13:20 to go in the game. Another three by Severe would give them a four-point lead at 47-43, with 11:44 left. A couple of baskets by Jordan Washington in the low post, would help them gain a seven-point lead, 52-45, with 10:21 left in the half.
The Peacocks came back and battled it out for most of the half, led by Wyche and Chazz Patterson, and they cut their deficit to one, 55-54, with 5:54 to go. Once again, the Gaels could not be counted out as Cassell drained a three-pointer with 3:58 to go, and led 58-55.
In the last two minutes, every possession ended up being crucial and not to be taken for granted. Quadir Welton would tie the score at 59-59 on a tip-in with 24 seconds to go in the game. In the next two possessions, neither team could capitalize on a basket, as the game would go into overtime.
St. Peter’s would start off aggressive in the extra session as they ended up with a three-point lead, 62-59, with 2:49 left, after a jumper by Antwon Portley. But two baskets by Washington moments later would give the Gaels a 63-62 lead with 1:32 to go. Then the game’s climactic moment came when Much would hit a four-point play with 40.6 seconds to go, which would give the Gaels a 67-66 lead.
Then the Peacocks would get another three-pointer from Griffin with 28.1 seconds left to cut the deficit to 67-66. Rickey McGill would hit two free throws to bring the lead to three for the Gaels, 69-66, with 23.4 seconds left. St. Peter’s had a final possession, but turned the ball over as Iona would win their fourteenth game of the season, and would sweep the Peacocks in the regular-season series.
Cassell would lead Iona with 17 points and five assists, while Washington added 15 points and seven rebounds. For St. Peter’s, Wyche led with 17 points, six rebounds and four assists, Griffin would add 15 points and Welton would contribute 10 points and 10 rebounds.