Gaels need decision making, individual performance to win the MAAC Championship

Matthew Chaves, Sports Editor

The Iona College women’s basketball team has the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship within their grasp.

The Gaels have had troubles in their conference for the past two years now, going 3-15 in the 2018-19 season and 2-16 in the 2017-18 season. Things are finally starting to come together for head coach Billi Chambers with her team’s 8-11 record.

Consistency has still been a goal the Gaels continue to reach for. The best example of this lack of consistency this season has been the three games between Feb. 6 and Feb. 11. The Gaels played two amazing games against Canisius and Niagara, beating Niagara by over 10 points, but when they came home to take on Monmouth, they squandered the game in the last quarter to lose 56-50.

The tight moments can create any result, to be fair. Their loss came after some messed up inbound passes, which Monmouth took advantage of. They were doing well the rest of the game. But that’s what separates the champions from the rest: their ability to make the right decisions at the right time.

The Gaels have the ability to do that, and they’ve proven that time and again. Recently, the Gaels haven’t been too hot in the last couple of games in the MAAC, but right now, for Iona, it’s all about the MAAC Championship tournament. The tournament is taken a game at a time, and that will be helpful for Iona.

Iona has what it takes to win the championship if they are on top of their game. They’ll have to play very well, especially against tied-conference leaders Marist and Rider, who both hold 17-2 records.

The Gaels haven’t bested either opponent so far in the season but have come close, within 12 points for each. If Iona can fix up their game to make up that deficit and then some, they can take on anyone else in the tournament.

The individuals who can make this dream a reality are senior Morgan Rachu and sophomores Juana Camilion and Shyan Mwai. Rachu is the team’s 3-point sharpshooter, having the second highest 3-point percentage on the team, although she leads the team in 3-pointers made with 68. Rachu will need to be on target throughout the tournament.

Rachu also does extremely well at the free throw line. She’s 20-22 all season, so if the Gaels can force Rachu to the foul line a couple of times throughout the game, that’ll most likely give them some easy points.

Camilion and Mwai are both wonderful all-round players. They have a .384 and .312 field goal percentage, respectively. Their presence on the court is definitely felt by both the Gaels and their opponents.

Defensively, the Gaels will need to turn to redshirt junior Tori Lesko to get the rebounds, although Rachu is right up there with her too. Both lead the team with 127 rebounds.

When it comes down to it, Rachu is the star player for the Gaels. If she can play her best games and lead her team well, Iona will have a chance to win the MAAC Championship for the first time since the 2015-16 season.