Iona, Army exhibition game gets cut short due to slippery conditions

Ryan McFadden, Sports Editor

The Iona College men’s basketball team took the floor in the Hynes Center for the first time this season on Tuesday night in an exhibition game against Army, which raised money to support hurricane relief in Florida, Puerto Rico and Texas.

Throughout the fast pace and up tempo game, both teams were experiencing issues with the court as multiple players were slipping and falling. The game was ultimately called off with 15:40 remaining in the second half and Army clinging onto a 63-61 lead.

“In 30 years of coaching, I never been around a game being canceled because of a sweaty floor,” Iona head coach Tim Cluess said. “We were going to stop it a minute earlier, but we were going to give it one more chance as long as our players wanted to go.

Cluess and Army head coach Jimmy Allen discussed the situation with the referees, and decided the players’ safety was more important than the outcome of a non-meaningful game.

“For a long stretch, the guys were fighting through it,” Allen said. “But it didn’t make a sense for us risking anybody getting hurt.”

Graduate transfer Zach Lewis made a strong impression in his first game with the Gaels, finishing with a game-high 27 points on 10-13 shooting and buried six three-pointers. Lewis, who spent time with Canisius and UMass, scored 22 points in the first half.

“He looked phenomenal,” Cluess said. “Zach brings some leadership to the team. I think he fits the way we play, and gets up and down the floor.”

The Gaels came out firing on both ends of the court during the opening minutes as they held a 23-9 lead. Lewis knocked down three of Iona’s first five baskets from behind the arc.

“I was just exciting,” Lewis said. “We’ve been going hard at each other since the summer time. It was just exciting to play against someone else.”

Iona couldn’t keep the momentum up especially on the defensive end as Army found a way to come back and go on a 10-0 scoring run, which set up a 53-49 lead at halftime.

“They [Iona] got it going right for the get go,” Allen said. “I thought we weathered the start and I was pleased with our response. They didn’t get rattled and kept playing aggressively.”

Iona went on a 10-5 run to tie the game at 59 in the second half. Lewis and junior point guard Rickey McGill, who finished with 15 points, five assists and three steals, led the charge. McGill was named to the All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Preseason Second Team prior to the game.

Sophomore E.J. Crawford tallied nine points, a rebound and shot 3-4 from the three-point line.

“He [Crawford] can knock down shots, but he has to rebound better,” Cluess said. “We can’t have him get one rebound in 15 minutes of playing time. He has to battle more than that.”

Iona will continue to practice and prepare for its season opener against Albany on Nov. 10. The Gaels has high expectations this season despite the new look roster as they are ranked the best team in the MAAC Preseason Poll.

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