Rapid Reaction: BYU 78, Iona 72
March, 14, 2012
By Kieran Darcy | ESPNNewYork.com
Recap | Box score
WHAT IT MEANS: This one will hurt for a long, long time.
Iona led BYU by as many as 25 points in the first half of their NCAA tournament first-round game Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio. The Gaels came out scorching the nets, scoring 55 points in just the first 15 minutes and change. But they only scored 17 points over the last 24:34 of the game as BYU rallied and stunned Iona, winning 78-72.
Simply put, it is the biggest comeback in NCAA tournament history.
TURNING POINT: With the score 13-10 Iona in the early going, the Gaels erupted on a 15-0 run to make it 28-10 less than midway through the first half. BYU cut it to 28-17, but then Iona exploded again, taking a 49-24 lead with 6:12 left before the break. Then the Cougars ended the half on a 9-0 run to make it 55-40 at intermission.
The second half was a whole 'nother story. Iona never got its mojo back offensively, stymied by BYU's zone defense. At one point the Gaels went more than nine minutes without a point. The Cougars got the deficit all the way down to one on two occasions without getting over the hump, and then finally took the lead on a Noah Hartsock trey with 2:28 remaining. BYU closed it out from there.
KEY PLAYER: Hartsock had a game-high 23 points for BYU, making 10 of his 14 shots from the field. Brandon Davies chipped in 18.
Scott Machado had 15 points and 10 assists in his final game for Iona -- but 12 of his 15 points and nine of his 10 assists came in the first half.
KEY STAT: Iona was on fire early in this game, but finished just 6-for-25 from 3-point range, and the Gaels rely heavily on perimeter shooting.
WHAT'S NEXT: BYU will enter the NCAA tournament's West bracket as the No. 14 seed, and play No. 3 seed Marquette on Thursday afternoon in Louisville, Ky.
Iona finishes the season with a record of 25-8.