The Iona Gaels men’s basketball team wasted an early 25-point lead Tuesday and Brigham Young University used a second-half comeback to pull out a late 78-72 victory over the Gaels in an opening-round play-in game in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The Gaels (25-8), who had won only once before in seven tries in the NCAA tournament in a victory over Holy Cross back in 1988, used an active defense, fast break offense and accurate long-range shooting to open a 25-point lead 15 minutes into the game and ended the first half up 55-40.
Iona was chosen by the NCAA Selection Committee as one of 38 at-large teams after failing to win its own Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference postseason tournament despite being the No. 1 seed with a record of 25-7. The NCAA gave the Gaels one of its play-in bids to play BYU for the No. 14 seed.
Brigham Young fought back in the second half, cutting an 18-point deficit to 62-61 with just under eight remaining in the game. Iona stretched the lead back to six points with 3:30 to play but BYU finished strong, outscoring Iona 17-4 to earn the win and a spot in Thursday’s West bracket game against No. 3 Marquette.
From reports by Iona Sports Information