Iona claims first MAAC regular-season title since 2001
Friday night at home against Fairfield, it was time for Iona to finally win the big one.
And thanks to Sean Armand, the Gaels did just that.
Armand scored all 17 of his points in the second half, including 15 in a pivotal 5:05 span which gave Iona a six-point lead with under 3:00 to play, and the Gaels rallied for a 77-72 victory over Fairfield at the Hynes Center.
The win gives Iona (23-6, 14-3 MAAC) its first MAAC regular-season title since in 2001. Fairfield, which lost point guard Derek Needham to an undisclosed foot injury, fell to 17-12 overall and 12-5 in the MAAC.
“Everybody stepped up,” said Machado, who logged 10 points and seven assists in the win. “This was a real nitty-gritty win for us and we needed it.”
Iona was trailing, 58-56, with 8:10 to play after the Stags’ Sean Crawford sank three free throws after being fouled by Taaj Ridley. But that’s when Armand began to catch fire and the game began to turn around for Iona.
Armand sank back-to-back three-balls in 21 seconds to get his streak started. he then added a jumper, a pair of free throws and another three-ball before capping his run with a layup and suddenly Iona was up, 71-65, with 2:44 to play.
Machado had seen this show before.
“Sean’s a lights-out shooter,” Machado said. “He does that day in and day out. I wish I could shoot like him. He’s an unbelievable shooter, one of the best in college basketball by far.”
Armand knew it was just a matter of time before he got rolling in the second half.
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