With the game tight throughout the first twenty five minutes, Iona used a key stretch midway through the second half to open up a 13-point lead that the Wolf Pack was never able to come back from.
The Gaels held a slight 47-46 edge coming out of the intermission and used a quick 8-2 spurt to push their advantage to 55-48, their largest up to that point in the game, just over two minutes into the second.
An old-fashioned three-point play from Nevada forward Olek Czyz sparked a response from the Wolf Pack that pulled it within two with the scoreboard showing 57-55 and 15:29 on the clock. Iona took over from that point.
Capitalizing on a number of Wolf Pack turnovers, Iona ripped off 12 of the next 14 points scored, jumping out to a 71-58 lead with just over 10 minutes left in the game.
“A part of that was from our turnovers that led to easy baskets,” Nevada assistant coach Keith Brown said. “They were making layups and we were turning the ball over. That hurt us. We just needed to protect the ball a little bit better.”
With the deficit still at 13, Wolf Pack guard Deonte Burton knocked down a three while being fouled and hit the following free throw. Czyz followed that with two free throws of his own and Nevada had cut the Gaels lead down to seven at 73-66 and 9:13 to play.
A three from Iona’s Randy Dezouvre followed by a putback erased the Wolf Pack’s effort in a matter of 20 seconds, widening the Gaels’ lead back to double digits at 78-66.
The margin was trimmed to 11 with 5:34 to play and the score at 82-71 before Nevada’s Dario Hunt scored six straight points, capped by an emphatic dunk that brought the Wolf Pack within five at 82-77, and yet again made it game with four minutes still left.
Iona switched the pace of the game the rest of the way, slowing down its usual up-tempo offense and running time off the clock. Nevada was unable to claw its way all the way back as the Gaels pushed their lead back to 10 with just 30 seconds left before the buzzer sounded with the scoreboard reading 90-84.
The game was very tightly contested to start with the teams battling back-and-forth en route to a 22-22 tie halfway through the opening half. From there, two Nevada baskets followed by an Iona trey made the score 26-25 before a 10-2 Pack run, capped by a pair of triples from Burton, handed the visitors a 36-27 lead with 5:13 until the break.
Iona clipped the deficit to seven over the next three minutes before it scored 11 unanswered to jump back into lead at 47-43. Nevada’s Malik Story hit a fade-away three with a second on the clock, leading to the 47-46 halftime score.
Nevada was led by Czyz, who had a game and career-high 28 points in the losing cause. Burton chipped in with 21 points, while Hunt and Story added 15 points and 10 points, respectively. The Pack shot 29-of-62 (46.8 percent) from the field, while going 6-of-20 (30 percent) from downtown.
Iona (22-6, 13-3 MAAC) had five players reach double digits, with guard Lamont Jones leading the effort with 18 points. Dezouvre tallied 17 points, while forward Michael Glover had 15. Guards Scott Machado and Sean Armand each added 13 points, with Machado also handing out 15 assists. The Gaels went 33-of-53 (62.3 percent) from the field while draining 8-of-14 (57.1 percent) beyond the arc. Iona’s bench outscored the Wolf Pack’s reserves 25-5.
“I think they had some guys who stepped up off the bench and made some plays for them,” Brown said. “You look at Dezouvre and he has 17 points and he’s only averaging four points a game so he was a big difference in the game. Sometimes you just chalk it up to it being one of those games. We got good looks at the basket and we were like 1-for-12 from the three-point line the second half. We had good looks at the basket, they just didn’t fall for us tonight.”
Nevada (22-5, 10-1 WAC) has a week off before traveling to Fresno, Calif. to battle the Bulldogs Saturday at 7 p.m.