Iona (5-4) at La Salle (6-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, December 20, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gola Arena (3,400) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: None. Home Record: Iona 3-0, La Salle 3-1. Away Record: Iona 1-1, La Salle 3-1. Neutral Record: Iona 1-3, La Salle 0-0. Conference Record: Iona 1-1, La Salle 0-0. Series Record: La Salle leads, 15-6.
GAME NOTES: The La Salle Explorers look to bounce back as they return home to Gola Arena to host the Iona Gaels in non-conference action on Thursday.
Tim Cluess and his Gaels enter with a 5-4 record after their 87-69 victory over Liberty on Tuesday. The decision came just three days after Iona hung on for an 81-78 overtime victory at Georgia. The team is 1-1 in true road games and also versus Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference foes. The Gaels are producing 79.8 points per contest on 44.6 percent shooting from the field while giving up 74.9 ppg to their opposition.
The Explorers dropped to 6-2 on Saturday when they were defeated 74-66 by Bucknell in Lewisburg. The loss snapped La Salle's five-game winning streak that included triumphs over Villanova (77-74 OT), Rider (63-52), and Penn State (82-57). Dr. John Giannini has a very efficient squad as La Salle ranks 12th nationally with only 10.6 turnovers per outing. La Salle is netting 70.6 ppg on 43.4 percent field goal shooting with a 37.1 percent mark from distance.
This will be the 22nd meeting between these schools on the hardwood. La Salle owns a 15-6 all-time series lead versus the Gaels in the rivalry that dates back to 1954. The series has been idle since Feb. 7, 1992.
Iona showed it is not shy from beyond the arc its last time out by finishing 18-of-41 on three-point attempts versus Liberty. The Gaels cruised to the win by assisting 21 of their 29 made field goals and also by holding the Flames to just nine field goals in the second half. Senior guard Lamont Jones had a stellar performance with of 24 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Junior guard Sean Armand added 23 points and nine rebounds while A.J. English tallied 17 points. Jones (22.3 ppg, 4.1 apg) and Armand (20 ppg, 6.7 rpg) are ranked first and second, respectively, in points per game among MAAC players. Junior guard Tre Bowman is a solid third option as he is just under a double- digit scoring average.
La Salle struggled inside against a very talented Bucknell squad its last time out. The Bison held a 38-31 advantage on the glass and converted 50 percent of their field goal attempts while holding the Explorers to 38.7 percent shooting from the field. Senior guard Ramon Galloway paced La Salle with 21 points and seven rebounds, junior guard Tyreek Duren scored 14 points, and sophomore forward Jerell Wright tallied 10 points, six rebounds, and three blocks. Virginia Tech transfer Tyrone Garland netted nine points in his debut with the program Galloway and Duren are tied for third in the Atlantic 10 in scoring with 17.1 ppg each. Sam Mills is a tenacious defender for La Salle and he will be a key in this one against the guard oriented Gaels.
With the exception of their home loss to Central Connecticut State, the Explorers have been impressive this season. Iona is a dangerous visitor due to its love of 3-point shooting. However, teams that live and die by the three are not best suited to take down La Salle and its fully loaded backcourt.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: La Salle 74, Iona 66
12/20 10:37:08 ET