Iona (6-6) at Quinnipiac (7-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, January 6, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: TD Bank Sports Center (3,300) -- Hamden, Connecticut. Television: SNY. Home Record: Iona 4-1, Quinnipiac 3-1. Away Record: Iona 2-5, Quinnipiac 3-4. Neutral Record: Iona 0-0, Quinnipiac 1-0. Conference Record: Iona 3-0, Quinnipiac 2-1. Series Record: Quinnipiac leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action is on tap at the TD Bank Sports Center on Monday night, as the streaking Iona Gaels take aim at the Quinnipiac Bobcats. This game was originally scheduled for Jan. 2 but moved due to inclement weather in the region.
Tim Cluess' Gaels are just 6-6 on the season, but the team hasn't missed a beat in conference play, jumping out to a 3-0 start. Iona was able to halt a four-game slide this past weekend, getting back to MAAC work with a 118-92 shootout win over Niagara.
Tom Moore's Bobcats know a thing or two about offensive eruptions, coming off a 94-77 win over Monmouth on Saturday. With the win, Quinnipiac halted a two- game skid and moved to 7-5 overall and 2-1 in league play.
These two team are meeting for the first time as members of the MAAC and just the second time ever. Last season, Quinnipiac outlasted Iona in a 98-92 overtime decision as part of the 2012 Paradise Jam.
The Gaels knocked down an astounding 24-of-32 field-goal attempts in the first half (.750) to take an insurmountable 62-36 lead into the break and then cruised to the lopsided win over Niagara last time out. Six Gaels finished in double figures in the win, led by Tre Bowman's 23 points in 24 minutes of work off the bench. A.J. English poured in 18 points, Sean Armand and David Laury both finished with 17, while Mike Poole and Ryden Hines chipped in with 12 points apiece.
Going over the century mark isn't the norm for Iona, but the team does perform quite well at the offensive end, entering this game averaging 83.1 ppg on a hefty 49 percent efficiency from the floor. That includes an impressive 41.3 percent from behind the arc, where the Gaels average 10.7 3-pointers made per outing. Armand and English are a deadly one-two punch from the perimeter. Armand leads the team in scoring with 21.3 ppg (tied for third in the MAAC), with English not far behind at 15.8 ppg. The pair have combined for 74 of the team's 128 3-pointers to date. Rounding out the top scoring threats for Iona are Laury and Bowman with 12.8 and 12.1 ppg, respectively.
Quinnipiac would like nothing better than to match the Gaels offensively. The Bobcats are a physical team that has knocked down 237 free throws already this season, just 20 less than Iona has attempted. Despite shooting a modest 41.2 percent from the floor, Quinnipiac is averaging an impressive 77.3 ppg. The scoring pool is deep with five players, including four starters, averaging double digits. Unlike the Gaels however, the Bobcats like to get inside. Forward Ike Azotam is a strong frontcourt performer, leading the team in scoring at 17.0 ppg, while pacing the MAAC on the boards with 10.7 rpg. Guard Zaid Hearst is effective in both areas as well, averaging 13.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Forward Ousmane Drame does his work in the paint as well, posting 12.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. Guards Umar Shannon (12.7 ppg) and Kasim Chandler (10.0 ppg) add to the scoring deluge for Quinnipiac.
Azotam dominated once again inside for Quinnipiac in the win over Monmouth, as he recorded a huge double-double with game-highs of 24 points and 16 rebounds. Shannon filled up the basket as well, posting 23 points, including five 3- pointers, while Drame, Hearst and Chandler all notched 10 points in the victory. The Bobcats shot an even 50 percent from the floor in the game and outrebounded the Hawks, 45-24.
The Gaels are going to let the shots fly in this one, as they do not match up with the Bobcats down low. That being said, if Iona's shots don't drop early, forcing Quinnipiac to extend its defense, it will be the Bobcats earning the win at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Quinnipiac 78, Iona 74
01/06 10:50:17 ET