Three takeaways from Iona’s 80-54 end-to-end win over Rider

NEW ROCHELLE – After needing a late rally to come back and escape Poughkeepsie with a win over Marist on Wednesday, Iona left little doubt against Rider on Friday night.

The Gaels (8-2) started strong and kept their momentum going until the end to move up to 2-0 in the MAAC game, beating the Broncs, 80-54.

“I’m very concerned about our defense, it’s a strong point everywhere I’ve coached,” said Iona coach Rick Pitino. “I told the guys, statistically, that all of our defense scans were poor. Tonight, especially in the first half, we played great defense and it was a great comeback. We did a lot. good things.”

Nelly Junior Joseph (23) of Iona heads for the basket in the Gaels’ 80-54 win over Rider on Friday, December 3, 2021.

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Nelly Junior Joseph led the way with 17 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. Dylan van Eyck had 14 points, six rebounds and three assists off the bench. Berrick JeanLouis added 11 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks.

For Rider (3-7, 0-1 MAAC), Jaelen McGlone led the Broncs with 11 points. Nehemiah Benson had 10 points. The Broncs’ five starters were limited to nine points or less.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Getting comfortable without Elijah Joiner

Joiner has had a series of injuries over the past two months. His latest, a knee injury in the dying minutes of Iona’s game against Liberty, caught up with him.

Although he played in the remaining Gaels games in Orlando, he did not play against Marist and was again absent for Rider.

“Walter (Clayton Jr.) and Colton (Cashaw) can get the job done,” Pitino said. “They’re not as good defensively as Elijah, but it’s a big boost for us to give them that experience. We’ll get Elijah back soon, maybe another week or so.

“He needs to lose weight, keep his knee healthy. We just want to take some of the weight off him, so it’s not too much pressure on his knee.”

Joiner is averaging 9.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game this season.

The Gaels definitely needed to adjust against Marist, but they seemed more ready and more comfortable to adapt without Joiner for Rider.

Joiner provides a secondary presence for scoring and rebounding, but most of all he’s a facilitator and ball manager they can count on.

Iona looked flawless offensively without Joiner, getting good ball movement and balanced scoring effort.

“With Elijah away, the freshmen, Colton and everyone had to step in,” JeanLouis said. “Everyone got to play which was good so everyone got a chance to show what they can do.”

Iona found a strong attacking pace early on, shooting 45.7% in the first half to take a 45-26 lead at the break.

As a team, the Gaels finished with 18 assists out of 26 shots taken, and nine different players have scored at least once.

“The last game we played against Marist the ball wasn’t moving a lot,” said JeanLouis. “If we move the ball we felt we could get a few touches of paint to pass for threes and layups. Moving the ball really helped us a lot.”

Iona's Berrick JeanLouis dunks the ball during the Gaels' 80-54 victory against Rider on Friday, December 3, 2021.

Berrick JeanLouis of Iona dunk the ball in the Gaels’ 80-54 win over Rider on Friday, December 3, 2021.

Berrick JeanLouis Punch, Full Set

JeanLouis is generally known for his defensive prowess on the basketball court.

The former New Mexico State and Southwest Florida State transfer earned a reputation as the team’s top defenseman in his inaugural season with the Gaels in the campaign. 2020-21.

His fierce defense has continued this season and was apparent on Friday night. He helped the Gaels block Dwight Murray Jr., Rider’s leading scorer with 15.1 points per game, and limited him to just six points on 3 of 10 shots. JeanLouis also performed interceptions and blocks, as well as deflections, to boost the team’s defensive effort.

“Dwight Murray is a hell of a basketball player,” said Pitino. “Berrick did a phenomenal job on him tonight. Not easy to do. The defense matched the attack tonight, we had 18 assists and did a lot of good things. We had nine interceptions and we pressed well. . “

However, he also made his mark on the end of the scoring.

JeanLouis came on against Rider averaging just 3.7 points per game this season.

On Friday he was more assertive and hit the double for the first time this year. .

He went 4 of 5 in the first half, before the reserves started playing more in the second half, and finished with 11 points and five assists.

“The attack, I’m not really trying to force it or anything,” JeanLouis said. “I just do what I’m given, so if I have a quick break I’m going to try to prepare it. If I can make a play, I’m going to pass it on to my teammates.”

Iona's Nelly Junior Joseph (23) shoots by contact during the Gaels' 80-54 victory against Rider on Friday, December 3, 2021.

Nelly Junior Joseph (23) of Iona shoots by contact in the Gaels’ 80-54 win over Rider on Friday, December 3, 2021.

Series dominance

The Gaels have now won 17 of the last 20 meetings with Rider, a streak that also includes seven in a row for Iona.

It was also Iona’s biggest margin of victory this season and the biggest of seven straight wins against the Broncs. Friday gave Iona a chance to play with her reserves, and the Gaels went to 13 Depths.

“We feel like a lot of guys haven’t been able to show their talents yet because we’ve been in so many close games,” said van Eyck. “In close games you want the guys who have been in these situations before to run the show and that is our success. We are 8-2 with a lot of close games but in games like this where we get an early lead, the freshmen have a little more freedom to show their talent because it’s not so much pressure. “

The Gaels had already lost to Rider on February 26, 2018 in a 110-101 affair. Prior to that, Iona had only lost to Rider two more times since 2013.

Iona will now have a break from MAAC play and basketball, having played seven games in 15 days. The Gaels return to action on Sunday, Dec.12 against Yale at the Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Follow Eugène Rapay on Twitter at @ erapay5 and on Instagram at @byeugenerapay.

This article originally appeared on Rockland / Westchester Journal News: College Basketball: Three takeaways from Iona’s 80-54 win over Rider



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