Iona fades away after robust first half: ‘They gained all the momentum’

ALBANY — The first 20 minutes Friday have been simply as Rick Pitino drew them up.

Iona shot the ball properly and held Connecticut star Jordan Hawkins scoreless.

The Gaels have been forward, quieting the pro-Huskies crowd.

The solely downside was, there was 20 minutes left. It was greater than sufficient time for fourth-seeded UConn to search out its sport.

Once it did, the Gaels have been toast.

Hawkins and Adama Sanogo took over after halftime, sending No. 13 Iona residence, 87-63, in a West Region first-round sport at MVP Arena.

Iona led by two at halftime, however that lead evaporated quick.

Hawkins produced a four-point play on UConn’s first possession of the second half and the Huskies reeled off 17 of the primary 21 factors after the break to take command.

The Gaels by no means acquired nearer than eight after that, and remained winless of their NCAA Tournament historical past.

Walter Clayton Jr. walks to the bench through the second half of Iona’s 87-63 loss to UConn.
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“Coming out of the half, they just came out more aggressive,” Iona guard Walter Clayton Jr. stated. “They gained all the momentum and we could never get it back.”

It was the story of two halves. Iona (27-8) shot 48 % within the first half and 25 % within the second half.

The Gaels held Hawkins and Sanogo to 6 factors within the first half and gave up 38 to them within the second half.

They have been the extra aggressive crew within the first 20 minutes and have been on their heels for the ultimate 20. It was 50-24, Huskies, after the break.

“The first half was just about as well as we played all year, but the second half was about as poor as we’ve played, but that’s due to Connecticut’s defense and offense,” Iona coach Rick Pitino stated after what might have been his final sport on the college. “They’ve got all the metrics to win a national championship.”

Clayton led Iona with 15 factors and Daniss Jenkins had 14 for the Gaels, who have been crushed on the glass, 45-29, and doubled up in factors within the paint, 26-13.

The loss ended a memorable season. Iona entered the event having received 14 straight video games after successful the MAAC regular-season crown.

It additionally equaled the college’s most wins in a single season since 1997-98, and did so regardless of quite a lot of accidents to key gamers.

“They gave me everything they could give me,” Pitino stated.