Lewis’ Buzzer Beater Helps Marist Stun Iona

The MAAC might be the craziest conference in America and on Thursday night things got even wackier. The first place team and the two teams tied for second that played as winter storm Nemo plowed towards the East Coast all lost on Thursday night, some in stunning fashion. The end result of a crazy night is that a team that’s currently 7-6 in conference play might be the favorite. (Well, and that Niagara ended up as a pretty big winner even in defeat.)

Marist 105, Iona 104 (2OT): The most stunning result has to be what happened in New Rochelle. Marist came into the game 2-10 in the conference, but thanks to Chavaugn Lewis’ miracle heave at the end of the first overtime managed to pull out an improbable victory. Jay Bowie returned for the Red Foxes after missing 11 games with concussion-like symptoms and scored 21 points on 11 shots, but it was his presence that helped open up space for all of his teammates. Lewis was able to play as a true slashing big man and scored 21 points and the middle opened up for Adam Kemp and he scored a career-high 29 points. Even with all that offense Marist wouldn’t have even been in position for the win without Lewis’ miracle three-quarters length shot.

Iona’s defense played really poorly, allowing 105 points in only 97 possessions. It was Marist’s third-best offensive performance during MAAC play and the other two came against Siena and Iona. Momo Jones is banged up right now, but given the tight nature of the game he came off the bench to play 45 minutes and scored 37 points. Taaj Ridley (12 points and 10 rebounds) and Sean Armand (19 points and 12 rebounds) both had strong nights, but Armand’s potential game-winner from the corner in double overtime was rejected. Tim Cluess certainly has a lot of work to do as Iona prepares for a tough game at Hynes against Rider.

Fairfield 61, St. Peter’s 44: Freed from the bonds of having to play the MAAC’s most talented teams the Stags are rolling once again. The offense still isn’t very good (Sydney Johnson’s team hasn’t topped a point per possession in each of its past two games), but the defense is stifling. The Peacocks had their worst offensive performance of the season at Webster Bank Arena on Thursday. St. Peter’s shot 17-53 (32 percent) on the night. Maurice Barrow continued his strong run of play with 15 points, Colin Nickerson had 14 points and Derek Needham added 13 to give Fairfield enough scoring to get the win. During the game the Stags announced that Saturday’s game against Manhattan had been postponed due to the impending super storm. (I covered Manhattan’s big win over Canisius earlier.) With the win Fairfield now has the best efficiency margin in the MAAC at +0.085 points per possession, narrowly edging out Niagara. The Stags are also by far the unluckiest, which is why they’re still in sixth place in the official league standings at 7-6.

Rider 72, Niagara 69: The confluence of events that allowed Fairfield to take over the No. 1 ranking in efficiency margin and stay at sixth in the standings was Rider’s home victory over the first place Purple Eagles. Niagara was playing without Antoine Mason, but still managed to score enough points to win, unfortunately they couldn’t contain Anthony Myles, who scored 23 points for the Broncs. Rider’s starters scored 65 of the team’s 72 points in the win. They also locked down Juan’ya Green, who scored seven points on 1-16 shooting from the floor. Niagara got a big boost from Ameen Tanksley, who scored 29 points. What’s very impressive is that Rider managed to win while only forcing eight turnovers, the Broncs usually rely on turnovers to get defensive stops, but held Niagara to just 37 percent shooting.

MAAC Standings:

  1. Niagara (10-3)
  2. Loyola (MD) (8-4)
  3. Iona (8-5)
  4. Canisius (8-5)
  5. Rider (8-5)
  6. Fairfield (7-6)
  7. Manhattan (6-7)
  8. Siena (4-8)
  9. Marist (3-10)
  10. St. Peter’s (2-11)

Tempo-free Standings:

  1. Fairfield +0.085
  2. Niagara +0.081
  3. Iona +0.064
  4. Canisius +0.062
  5. Loyola (MD) +0.047
  6. Manhattan +0.030
  7. Rider +0.012
  8. Marist -0.114
  9. Siena -0.127
  10. St. Peter’s -0.149
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