GAME NOTES: The Iona Gaels play the second game of a four-game road trip this afternoon, as they tangle with the Nevada Wolf Pack in non-conference action at the Lawlor Events Center in Reno.
Currently one game over .500 after nine outings, the Gaels are hoping to put an end to a two-game slide today after losing to St. Bonaventure last weekend (102-89), and then bowing at Dayton three nights ago, 96-84.
Meanwhile, the Pack has stumbled along through the first six weeks of the campaign, logging only four wins in 11 tries. The team is just 1-3 at home, losing the most recent home date last weekend to Omaha by a score of 82-80. The setback was the second in a row and the fifth in six games overall, with the only win during the stretch coming in overtime versus UC Davis earlier this month.
The Gaels won the only previous encounter between the programs at home in New Rochelle in 2012 by a score of 90-84.
A.J. English converted a stellar 8-of-10 shots behind the 3-point line for the Gaels a few nights back versus Dayton, finishing with a game-high 30 points but even that effort was not enough to keep Iona from falling into the loss column again. Sean Armand tacked on 20 points and Tre Bowman 14 for the Gaels as they converted 51.7 percent from the field and 12-of-26 beyond the arc, but just 10-of-18 at the free-throw line in the 12-point decision.
Armand, who has twice scored 30 points this season to match English for the team high, paces the program overall with 22.8 ppg. He is connecting on an impressive 52.3 percent from the field and a team-best 43.7 percent on the perimeter, for anyone who has made at least more than two baskets on the outside at least. English checks in with 15.7 ppg and David Laury another 14.0 ppg as he clears 7.8 rpg in an effort to draw attention away from his mere 47.9 percent effort at the charity stripe.
The up-and-coming Mavericks of Omaha showed the Wolf Pack that they were no pushovers as they actually took down Nevada at home by two points the last time out. Jerry Evans managed to score 24 points for the hosts, shooting 8- of-10 from the floor and 4-of-5 behind the 3-point line, but still it wasn't enough. Deonte Burton tacked on 22 points and eight assists, followed by Michael Perez with 17 points as guard play dominated for the Pack. The starting front line tallied 11 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, but shot only 3-of-9 from the floor.
Burton, a career 15.7 ppg scorer, is easily one of the most productive scorers in the Mountain West Conference this season with his 23.1 ppg, accounting for 3.5 rpg and 3.5 apg, but even those numbers are not enough to keep Nevada from lagging behind in far too many outings. Perhaps part of the problem is that Burton is plying more than 38 minutes per game and that doesn't allow the reserves to grow and gain significant game experience.
If Iona plans on running up the score the Pack might be able to stick around for a while, but not a full 40 minutes given how much the hosts are counting on just a couple of players to carry them.
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