In the first 16 minutes Iona scored 55 points. The Gaels had 17 assists and 3 turnovers, and led the BYU Cougars by 24 (two minutes earlier they had led by 25). The announcers couldn’t resist questioning how Iona would match up on Thursday with No. 3 seed Marquette.
In the next 24 minutes they turned the ball over 15 times and scored 17 points.
Meanwhile, BYU, played a consistent game. It scored 40 in the first half. It scored 38 in the second half. With 2:28 Noah Hartsock made a three and BYU took their first lead of the game. And at that point, Iona was done. The Cougars outscored them 8-2 down the stretch and won 78-72.
For those keeping score, that’s a 47-17 run to finish the game and a 25-point deficit that was overcome.
For the 2nd time in two games, the NCAA First Four featured an epic comeback.
Everything the Gaels did well in the first half, they did poorly in the 2nd half. Early, they consistently got into transition which led to easy buckets. After Iona got to 55 points by making 65% of their 2s, it was easy to see why only one team in the nation has shot better on the interior than the Gaels. They ran. They moved the ball. They got layups. It all looked too easy.
In the 2nd half Iona suddenly went stagnant against BYU’s zone. They rarely got into transition. And their half court sets were flat. It was unclear if they were trying to burn clock, or if they just couldn’t figure out the angles to attack.
BYU’s Noah Hartsock led all scorers with 23 points on 10 of 14 shooting. Brandon Davies added 18 points and 15 rebounds.
Scott Machado, in his final game at Iona, finished with 15 points and 10 assists.
Now BYU advances to play No. 3 seed Marquette on Thursday.