Iona downs Manhattan in final home game of season

Ryan McFadden, Sports Editor

Iona College men’s basketball guard Rickey McGill dribbled around the court as the final seconds of the Gaels 85-74 victory against rival Manhattan on Friday evening were ticking away. McGill, who had a perfect shooting night, approached his teammates on the bench and began celebrating the end of a two game losing streak.

“It’s just a great rivalry,” Iona head coach Tim Cluess said. “Both teams bring a tremendous amount of energy to the game.”

Iona, who’s been searching for a sense of consistency throughout the season, found it on senior night as the team had four players in double figures and shot 50 percent from the floor. The backcourt duo of McGill and junior Schadrac Casimir gave the Jaspers problems, combining for 47 points and 11 assists.

“We were hoping our guards would pick it up during this part of the year,” Cluess said. “They’ve been up and down this season, but I thought they played really well tonight on both sides of the ball and played with a lot of effort.”

Casimir tallied a game high 30 points and went 5-7 from the three point line. It was Casimir’s first 30-point game since his freshman season. McGill added 17 points (7-7 FG) and seven assists.

Sophomore E.J. Crawford picked up two fouls early in the game, but came back in to register 14 points and a team-high six rebounds. Crawford mentioned how Cluess wanted him to step up his rebounding effort.

“[Cluess] said ‘I don’t care how much you score, you are going have to rebound at the next level,” Crawford said. “I took that in and now I try to rebound everything.”

Crawford nailed a pair of three pointers including a four-point play, which gave Iona a 42-29 lead with 2:54 to go in the second half.

The Gaels held their largest of the game early in the second half when Casimir and Crawford converted back-to-back three pointers, which put them up 55-35.

Manhattan started creeping back in the middle of the second half, outscoring Iona 23-9. Jaspers’ guard Thomas Capuano nailed a three-pointer, which cut the deficit to 71-63 with less than nine minutes to play.

Iona was able to hold off Manhattan’s late comeback with the help of Casimir, McGill and junior Roland Griffin, who finished with 14 points and a block. Senior Deyshonee Much added eight points and a pair of three pointers in 34 minutes of play. Graduate transfer Zach Lewis didn’t play due to illness, according to Cluess.

Iona will close out the regular season on Sunday afternoon against Rider. The road matchup is scheduled for a 2 p.m. tip-off.

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