Iona (3-2) at Saint Peters (3-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 5, 7 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Yanitelli Center (3,200) -- Jersey City, New Jersey. Television: None. Home Record: Iona 2-0, SP 1-2. Away Record: Iona 0-0, SP 2-2. Neutral Record: Iona 1-2, SP 0-0. Conference Record: Iona 1-0, SP 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 47-47.
GAME NOTES: The Saint Peters Peacocks are set to open their Metro Atlantic Athletic Association schedule tonight as they host the Iona Gaels at the Yanitelli Center in Jersey City.
Iona has been idle since opening MAAC play with an 83-72 home win over Niagara last Wednesday. The Gaels' previous two victories so far this season were followed up with a loss the next time out, a trend they would certainly like to end tonight. This contest marks the start of a three-game road trip for the Gaels, who have some work to do if they hope to match last year's 25-win season.
Coming off a 5-26 campaign a year ago, Saint Peters opened the 2012-13 season with three straight victories, two of which came on the road against Rutgers and Cornell. However, the Peacocks have since four straight, including a 74-66 decision to Boston University on Saturday. The Peacocks are in the midst of a stretch that will see them play five of six at home.
The all-time series between these two schools is deadlocked at 47-47, although Iona swept both meetings last season and has won five of the last six matchups with the Peacocks.
Iona junior guard Sean Armand posted his first collegiate double-double in last week's win over Niagara, finishing with 18 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Armand knocked down 4-of-8 3-pointers and also dished out five assists in the victory. He was one of five double-digit scorers for the Gaels, who shot an efficient 12-of-26 (.462) from beyond the arc. Curtis Dennis made 5-of-8 threes and finished with 17 points, while Lamont Jones, Tavon Sledge and Tre Bowman each scored 12. Jones (23.0 ppg) and Armand (20.6 ppg) enter the weekend as the top two scorers in the MAAC, while Bowman is third on the team with 13.8 ppg. Armand has been a particularly tough matchup for the opposition, as he is shooting an almost automatic 53 percent from the perimeter (19-of-36) while collecting 5.8 rebounds per game.
The Peacocks have a potent outside shooter of their own in redshirt sophomore Desi Washington, who leads the team with 15.9 ppg and 19 3-pointers (.365). Washington is also one of three Peacocks players pulling down at least four rebounds per tilt (4.1 rpg) along with Blaise Ffrench (12.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and Yvon Raymond (10.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg). Still, Saint Peters enters this contest -3.1 in rebounding margin through seven games. In their outing against Boston U. on Saturday, the Peacocks made an impressive 22-of-23 free throws for the game. However, they also allowed BU to knock down 11-of-22 threes, and that proved to be a key factor in the outcome. Washington scored 22 of his career-high 32 points in the second half as the Peacocks whittled a 23-point deficit down to two points. But BU went on a late 15-6 run to end the threat.
Saint Peters has certainly shown improvement over last year's five-win team, although there are still several areas that need to improve. Playing on their home floor, the Peacocks should be able to keep this one tight for a while, but in the end, they simply don't have the firepower to match Iona's one-two punch of Armand and Jones.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iona 79, Saint Peters 69
12/05 10:38:29 ET