Iona put their impressive offense on full display Saturday afternoon. The Gaels ran away from Rider early and defeated the Broncs 94-71 in the MAAC tournament quarterfinals at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.
Iona opened the game on a 15-4 run and kept up the tempo throughout. Thanks to a tremendous first half from Tre Bowman, the Gaels were able to open up and maintain a comfortable lead on the Broncs throughout the half, leading by as much as 16 as they took a 50-34 lead into the break.
Bowman led all scorers at the half with 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and 3-for-4 from behind the arc. David Laury was once again tremendous off the bench for the Gaels, falling just one rebound shy of a double-double in the first half alone.
“I think Dave has a very high ceiling,” head coach Tim Cluess said of Laury. “If he continues to work this hard, he’s just going to get better and better.”
Rider outscored Iona 14-10 early on in the second half and were able to cut the lead to 10, but the Gael’s offense was just too much. Thanks to an 11-3 run capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from Sean Armand and Isaiah Williams, Iona was able to extend their lead out to 18.
The lead grew as large as 26 in the second half as Iona took full control of the game. Bowman continued his hot streak with another 11 points in the second half to finish with a game-high 28. It was Bowman’s second highest point total of the year after tallying 29 against Florida Gulf Coast earlier in the season.
Armand knocked down four shots from behind the arc and joined Bowman in the 20-point club with 20 points of his own. The Broncs had no answers for Laury inside as the junior forward finished with his sixth double-double of the year on 18 points and 11 rebounds. Williams rounded out the scoring for the Gaels with 12 points.
“It’s very different being a lot of all of our players can score the ball,” Bowman said. “None of us are selfish. When that happens a lot of good things happen.”
Anthony Myles led Rider with 19 points and dished out five assists. Freshman Jimmie Taylor added 14 for the Broncs while Daniel Stewart finished with 12 points and seven rebounds. With just under two minutes remaining in the game, Stewart picked up his fifth foul, ending his career with Rider. An emotional Kevin Baggett was seen consoling his senior forward on his way to the bench.
“I told him I love him and I thank him for everything,” Baggett said. “He’s done everything we’ve ever asked him to do. He’s like a son to me. It’s not just about basketball at the end of the day for me.”
With the victory, Iona will go on to play the winner of the Canisius/Siena match up in the semifinals on Sunday. The Gaels split their season series with the Golden Griffins, but swept both games against the Saints.