Iona closed out a victory over Saint Peter’s at home on Saturday night; however, the event to see was the mix up that took place after the buzzer sounded. Here is another angle of the brawl, following the end of the Gaels’ 68-61 win.
Tension built over the 45 minutes of game action. That is obviously understandable after Saint Peter’s held Iona to just 12 points in the first 16:39 of regulation but allowed the Gaels to more than double their score in the remaining 3:21.
The explosive trio of David Laury, A.J. English, and Schadrac Casimir knocked down Iona’s only 3-pointers of the half during that short span, reducing what had been an 11 point Peacock lead to a tie game at 25 at halftime.
Midway through the first half, Marvin Dominique and Kelvin Amayo were whistled for matching technical fouls, but the tipping point came when Laury was whistled for a technical foul while lining up beside Dominique during a Saint Peter’s free throw attempt with just 1:29 left in regulation.
After an exchange of words, Laury was sent to the bench, where head coach Tim Cluess sat him down for the remainder of the second half.
“I tell our guys no matter what’s going on in the game, no matter what our opponents are saying, you have to keep your head and be above it,” Cluess said. “I didn’t think David was able to stay above it. He needed to learn a lesson and if we were going to lose the game we were going to lose the game.”
“He [Dominique] said some things, some foul language, and I told him don’t talk to me like that,” Laury added on the altercation. “That’s pretty much it. It was just that I was so close to his face that the ref called a tech. [Coach Cluess] told me I’ve got to know better than to do things like that, especially late in the game. I respect what he did in keeping me out until overtime as he should have done. I can’t mess up and have us lose a game at home because someone called me a name. People are going to do that all the time.”
Laury’s technical on top of the original foul resulted in Saint Peter’s taking a three point lead which they extended to a four point advantage with just 15 seconds to play. A costly turnover led to English bringing the Gaels back within one with a corner three with just eight ticks left on the clock.
Dominique made one of two free throws down the stretch, keeping the lead at two. With time winding down, English appeared stalled at the top of the arc, but fired a pass through to Amayo under the basket to send the game to overtime.
“What a great decision. I told him for the first two years he never would have made that pass. That’s how far he’s come as a basketball player that he had the vision to see Kelvin there and understanding how much time was on the clock that he could get it there and Kelvin could make a layup. I thought he was going to throw up a tough three and he didn’t. It was a great play.”
Iona took their final lead on an Ibn Muhammad free throw with 2:00 left in overtime and sealed the deal with free throws down the stretch. Saint Peters’ offense went cold in the final period. The Peacocks went just 1-8 from the field and had a bucket waved off for basket interference, which only fed into the tension further.
After the game, both coaches were displeased with the way their team acted in letting their emotions get out of control after the final buzzer.
“It was such a hard-fought game, kids’ tempers are going to get up,” Saint Peter’s head coach John Dunne said of the fight. “It is what it is. You see that all the time. You see that on the playgrounds. No punches were thrown. Everyone kept their cool as far as that was concerned, so it was just a whole lot of nothing really.”
“Both teams need to mature better and neither team should have done that,” Cluess added. “We are at fault, but so was the other team and both teams need to grow from this and understand this is a basketball game. You compete your hardest, but you don’t act out of character. You never take it beyond what it should be and both teams were wrong.”
Action from the league regarding the scrum is yet to be determined. Though both coaches attest no punches were thrown, English can be seen slipping past one of the referees, who ended up on the floor. As a final note, literally lost in the shuffle was Dominique eclipsing 1,000 career points with 17 on the evening.
Vincent Simone covers Quinnipiac, the MAAC, and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.