NCAA Basketball

Ninth seed Iona beats Niagara 70-64 in MAAC semifinal

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) Asante Gist scored 19 points with five assists and Iona defeated Niagara 70-64 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals on Friday.

Dylan van Eyck added 14 points for Iona (11-5), which has won five in a row, including three in the post season. Nelly Junior Joseph added 13 points and nine rebounds. Isaiah Ross, the MAAC's leading scorer, was held to four points on 1 of 9 shooting and had eight of Iona's 16 turnovers.

Niagara twice cut a 20-point, second-half Iona lead down to three, the last time when Raheem Solomon scored and converted a three-pointe play making the score 67-64 with 15 seconds left.

Ryan Myers and Joseph made three of four free throws for the final score. Niagara outscored Iona 39-27 in the second half, whittling away the Gaels 43-25 halftime lead.

Solomon scored a season-high 21 points and had eight rebounds for the Purple Eagles (9-11). Kobi Nwandu added 16 points. Marcus Hammond had 11 points.

Iona will meet the winner of seventh-seeded Fairfield against No. 3 seed Saint Peter's in Saturday's championship game.

Coach Rick Pitino's team could become the first No. 9 seed to win a MAAC Tournament. The Gaels were idled 51 days because of COVID-19 issues, from Dec. 24 to Feb. 11. It was the longest pause this season in Division I.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights, http://www.automatedinsights.com/ap, using data from STATS LLC, https://www.stats.com

Updated March 12, 2021

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