By Trey Rodriguez
Gaels come up short, despite Washington’s big effort: Former Pathways forward Jordan Washington played one his best games of the season, alongside A.J. English for Iona, in a losing effort against Iowa State.
Washington finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds due to his ferocious effort in the paint, crashing the glass for five offensive rebounds. Despite his effort, No. 4-seeded Iowa State proved to be too much for No. 13 Iona, dealing the Gaels a 94-81 loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament March 17 in Denver.
“I feel like I could have done more for my team. I tried,” Washington told reporters after the game. “We fought hard, we dug deep and we tried. That’s all I can say.”
Washington was coming off a 15-point, 13-rebound performance in a victory over Monmouth in the MAAC championship game, helping secure the Gaels’ invitation to the big dance. The duo of Washington and English carried the Gaels over Iowa State’s stingy defense, but it was not enough. English finished with 28 points and 6 assists, a few of which resulted in Washington points.
“We knew it was going to be really challenging,” said Iona coach Tim Cluess. “When you play teams of this level, they have guys that are bigger, stronger and faster, that can play basketball.”
Senior Georges Niang led the way for the Cyclones with his 28 points and 6 rebounds. Iowa State’s defense set the tone early on, igniting an 11-0 run in the first half that would give them an 11-5 lead and control of the rest of the game.
“Credit to them,” said Cluess. “Every time we made runs, except the last one which was predicated on people not playing the game, changing the momentum, I think they made big threes every time we made a run at them.”
Despite Washington’s success slashing to the rim and crashing the offensive glass with his hustle, Iowa State’s size and athleticism really hurt the Gaels, resulting in 13 turnovers and plenty more free throws for Iowa State.
Molloy alum Larranaga leads Miami to Sweet 16: Coach Jim Larranaga, who played basketball at Archbishop Molloy, has his Hurricanes team in the regional semifinals for the second time in five years. Third-seeded Miami barely escaped in a 79-72 first round matchup with No. 14 Buffalo and then beat No. 11 Wichita State in the second round, 65-57 to set up their Sweet 16 faceoff with Villanova. Larranga was pleased with his team’s defense and resiliency against Wichita State.
“I thought the way we played defense to start the game was unbelievable,” Larranaga told reporters. “It got us off to a great start, but of course they are a terrific team, and they made a great run at us, eventually took the lead. But these guys have great heart, and they really pulled together down the stretch, made some huge plays.”
Notes: Former Campus Magnet standout Kevin Mays scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds for No. 15-seeded Cal-State Bakersfield in an first round loss to No. 2 Oklahoma.