Feb. 26, 2005
Senior Tommy Mitchell was called for an offensive foul with just seven seconds remaining, negating the potential go-ahead basket as Iona emerged with a 75-72 win in the regular-season finale for both teams. The two teams will meet again Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Buffalo's HSBC Center in the first game of the 2005 MAAC Men's Basketball Tournament. Iona locked up the #5 seed with the win, while the Saints are the #10 seed.
The Saints cut Iona's lead to 72-71 with 25 seconds remaining on an Al Fisher free throw. Fisher missed the backend, but Charles Henson fell down and was whistled for a traveling violation on the rebound. Down just one with the ball, Mitchell drove the left baseline and converted a weaving runner in traffic off glass. There was contact on the contested shot, and referee Rich Giallella emphatically signaled that Mitchell was the culprit.
The Saints were whistled for 30 infractions in the game compared to just 19 for Iona. Both Iona head coach Jeff Ruland and Siena head coach Rob Lanier were given technical fouls during the game, as was Siena forward David Ryan. Iona's Gary Springer was ejected for taking a swing at Ryan midway through the first half.
Aside from the controversy and extra curricular activities, the two rivals played an entertaining hotly contested battle with 10 ties and six lead changes. Each team rallied from 10-point second half deficits to regain the lead after intermission.
Freshman sensation Jack McClinton led the Saints with 23 points. Classmate Al Fisher had a career-high 18. Junior Antoine Jordan came off the bench to score 12 and Mitchell added 11 as the Saints had four players in double figures for the second straight game.
Iona shot 61% from the field in the second half and 67% from 3-point range. McCullough had a season-high 20 points and did not miss a field goal, converting 6-6 from the floor and 4-4 from 3-point range. Steve Burtt had 19, Greg Jenkins scored 13 and Ricky Soliver added 12 for the Gaels.
Jenkins left the game late in the second half and was taken to the hospital after falling to the ground following a breakaway jam. He lay motionless for several minutes before leaving the floor with the help of Iona medical staff and teammates.
The Saints had one last chance to tie or take the lead after Soliver made 1-of-2 free throws following the Mitchell charge. Down 74-72 with six seconds left, Al Fisher lost control of the ball and Steve Burtt went to the line to ice the game.
The Saints finish the regular-season 6-23 and 4-14 in the MAAC. The 23 losses are the most in the history of the program. Still, the team has played without question its best basketball of the season of late and no doubt relishes the opportunity Friday's rematch presents. Siena defeated Iona earlier this season 59-56 in Albany. The Saints have won eight of the last 10 meetings between the two schools, but Iona won the last two MAAC Tournament encounters.