DAYTON, Ohio -- Reaction from BYU's 78-72 win over Iona.
Overview: The scouting report on Iona was simple. The Gaels can run with anyone (they have the top scoring offense in the country), but they can’t guard anyone.
Both proved to be true in their loss to BYU on Tuesday in the First Four matchup at University of Dayton Arena.
With 4:34 to go in the first half, the Gaels held a 55-31 lead.
Get out your calculators for this one.
That’s a 24-point margin, right? Well, for the next 16 minutes and 31 seconds, the Gaels recorded just seven points.
Huh? How does a team score 55 points in the first 15:24 of the game and then register seven during the next 16:31?
They couldn’t score against BYU’s zone. The Cougars forced Iona to slow down and rely on sets instead of the up-tempo game that had carried the Gaels to that crazy start. Iona was perplexed as BYU kept cutting into its lead.
As Iona’s offense stalled (going scoreless for more than nine minutes), BYU mounted a comeback that resulted in a 71-70 lead for the Cougars on a Noah Hartsock 3-pointer with 2:28 to play. Brandon Davies hit a pair of late free throws, and a Brock Zylstra three-point play with 23 seconds to go gave BYU a 76-70 lead. More late free throws sealed the win for the Cougars.
It was the biggest comeback in NCAA tournament history. That followed the greatest comeback in the last five minutes during Western Kentucky's late push against MVSU in the first game.
The largest deficit of the game was 25 points, making this a 31-point turnaround for BYU. Welcome to March.
Key Player: Davies had 18 points, and Hartsock scored 23. Both were crucial in the win.
Key Stats: Iona scored 55 points and shot 69 percent from the field and 71 percent on 3-pointers in the first 15:26 of the game. But in the final 24:34 of the game, the Gaels scored 17 points, shot 20 percent from the field and made just 1 of 18 3-point attempts.
Misc.: Wow. Again. I know a lot of folks have knocked the First Four setup, but we were treated to a pair of thrilling finishes in Dayton. And that was only Day 1. ... How on earth did that happen? How did Iona blow that lead? I’ve never witnessed that kind of collapse in person.