College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, January 6, 2012
With very limited action on Friday nights (only 4 games this Friday), the opportunity to focus on some of the better, less-publicized programs across the country is afforded. One such team is the Iona Gaels, currently leading the MAAC with a 4-0 conference record and a solid 12-3 mark overall after taking down the Niagara Purple Eagles by a 73-61 score.
The Gaels didn't overpower Niagara, leading by only four points at the half, but managed to pull away late, establishing themselves as a contender in the conference that includes only a few perennial small-college powerhouses, such as Fairfield (3-1 in the MAAC) and Loyola of Maryland (also 3-1).
Iona's defense did the trick against Niagara, limiting their opponent to just 36% shooting, including 4-for-19 on three-pointers. Meanwhile, the Gaels' leading scorer, senior forward Michael Glover, provided efficient offense, hitting 6 of 7 shots from the field and making 7 of 8 free throws for a game high 19 points.
Glover also inhaled six rebounds, and provided two steals.
Iona lost to St. Peter's in last season's MAAC tournament championship and made it through three games of the of the CIT Tournament before falling in the final to Santa Clara, 79-69. Missing out narrowly on making the cut for the NCAA tourney last year seems to have provided the Gaels with some added motivation this time around and they are blazing a trail that may land them a spot at the Big Dance come March.