Iona falls to second seed Duke in NCAA Tournament, 89-67

Graduate transfer TK Edogi had 11 points and nine rebounds against Duke on Thursday.

Ryan McFadden, Sports Editor

PITTSBURGH- Duke University’s size and three-point shooting was too much for the Iona College men’s basketball team, who fell to the Blue Devils 89-67 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday afternoon.

“[Duke] is one heck of a basketball team,” Iona head coach Tim Cluess said. “We tried to throw a lot of things at them and they responded in a different way.

The Gaels got off to a fast and inspiring start, trading baskets with the ninth best team in the country. Junior guard Schadrac Casimir led the charge, scoring eight of Iona’s 13 points.

“We were hitting shots back,” Iona graduate transfer TK Edogi, who finished with 11 points and nine rebounds, said. “We just needed to get a couple more stops, and maybe the outcome of the game would have changed.”

Duke crushed the Gaels’ momentum with a 17-3 run, which gave the Blue Devils a 43-26 lead, in the middle of the first half. Iona’s size mismatch with Duke played a huge role as Blue Devils’ freshman Marvin Bagley III was dominating the paint, finishing with 22 points and seven rebounds. Duke freshman forward Wendell Carter Jr. added nine points and eight rebounds.

“They’re projected to go in the draft this year,” Iona junior transfer Roland Griffin said. “You got to play physical with them.”

Iona tried to force the Blue Devils to take more outside shots. However, the Gaels’ game plan fired back as Duke shot 43 percent from the floor. Blue Devils’ freshman guard Trevon DuVal had 19 points and eight assists while going 4-5 from the three point line. Senior Grayson Allen and freshman Gary Trent Jr. scored 16 points and converted a combined eight three pointers.

“We knew they had two bigs that was top in the country, and we tried to get them to shoot,” Iona junior Rickey McGill said. “Obviously, they [were]  having a hot night and it just didn’t go our way.”

The Blue Devils wrote off the Gaels early in the second half when they took a 70-45 lead with 13:17 to play. Duke held its largest lead of 27 points with less than five minutes remaining in the game.

“We don’t have size and athleticism and [Duke] made us pay,” Cluess said. “On the other end, we don’t have an interior offense. I think our guys did a good job sharing [the] ball and getting good looks, but you have to make them.”

Griffin, who was the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Sixth Man of the Year, had a team-high 21 points and five rebounds. McGill and graduate transfer Zach Lewis each scored 10 points.

Even though the Gaels couldn’t cemented themselves in the record books in front of a sold out crowd, they will walk away from the 2018 campaign accomplishing a goal that looked obsolete in the middle of the season.

“Any time you lose, it’s very disappointing especially on a stage like this,” Cluess said. “But our guys did a tremendous job getting where they did, so I’m really proud of them.”

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