Three Thoughts: Iona 75, Canisius 72

Three Thoughts from Iona’s 75-72 victory over Canisius to advance to the MAAC championship game on Monday night.

The Always Impressive Billy Baron: Billy Baron has been the heart and soul of this Golden Griffins team for the last two years. Baron struggled in the first half against Iona, reaching halftime with just seven points. However, with Canisius trailing by 12 points seven minutes into the second half, Baron began to seize control of the situation.

The senior guard scored seven points in a row as part of an 11-4 Canisius run which brought the team within five with just under nine minutes to play. Iona was able to extend the lead back to 10 later in the half, but Baron once again refused to give up.

With just over four minutes remaining, Baron knocked down one of his patented deep 3-pointers. The shot sparked a 10-0 which tied the game at 70 entering the final minute of play. Baron was responsible for all but one point in the run.

“Billy really almost tried to will the game in our favor,” said head coach and father Jim Baron.

On the final possession of the game, with his team trailing 75-72, Baron once again took charge. He dribbled the ball up past half court, and stepped back for another long 3-point attempt. It looked to be on line to send the game to overtime, but fell short of the basket, ending the Golden Griffins’ impressive season.

“I knew that it was short right away,” Baron said. “I just didn’t put enough legs into it. I just pulled up from a little deeper than I wanted. Those are just the things that you’ve got to live with; that’s got to make you better and that’s got to push you. You never want to miss, and if you miss you never want to miss short. To miss that short is extremely tough to live with.”

Laury vs. Manhertz: For a game dominated by a slew of talented guards, one of the most intriguing match ups took place underneath the basket. David Laury and Chris Manhertz squared off as the inside presences for Iona and Canisius respectively.

Early on, Manhertz was more physical inside and was able to work around and above Laury on a number of occasions, including a layup with just over five minutes remaining in the first half to bring the Griffs within two. Manhertz drew the second foul against Laury on the play, as the latter went to the bench for the remainder of the half.

David Laury showed his propensity to get critical rebounds on Sunday and throughout the MAAC tournament. (photo courtesy: Stockton Photo)

Statistically, Manhertz had the stronger game, finishing with a double-double on 15 points and 13 rebounds to Laury’s four points and 12 rebounds. Manhertz’s efforts helped Canisius control the glass, which led to the Griffs winning the battle of the boards 37-31.

“Him getting a double-double, they had no answers for him inside,” coach Jim Baron said. “We out-rebounded them I thought that was pivotal. We wanted to be aggressive going at them, and we played to try to win the game.”

Despite Manhertz’s tremendous game inside, it was Laury who enjoyed the last laugh. After Baron knotted the game at 70 entering the final minute, it was Laury who was able to grab a pivotal offensive rebound and lay it back up to put the Gaels ahead for good.

“I was just going after the ball,” Laury said of his go-ahead basket. “I try not to work on anything else, just stay in the moment. I saw the shot go up and I was just trying to chase down every offensive rebound I could late in the game.”

Isaiah Williams is Ready to Pick up the Torch: Last season Tre Bowman emerged as the Gael in his first MAAC tournament that showed signs of a bright future, on this night Isaiah Williams showed off why he could be that presence not only Monday but moving forward.

The sophomore had a tremendous night shooting, finishing the game 7-of-10 from the field and helped Iona get out to a hot start with two buckets from beyond the arc in the Gaels’ first three possessions.

Williams also helped out on the defensive end, recording a key block on a Manhertz attempted layup. Williams tied senior guard Tre Bowman for second on the team with 16 points on the evening.

Iona’s potent offense should not lose any steam as the team moves forward. The Gaels have already overcome the loss of star players like Scott Machado and Momo Jones. With players like Williams ready to pick up the torch, Iona should have no problem absorbing the loss of players like Bowman and Sean Armand.

With the Gaels once again playing for the conference championship, the idea of Iona being just as potent offensively next year is a scary thought for their opponents in the MAAC.

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