Iona (17-10) at Liberty (19-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 19th, 3:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Vines Center (8,085) -- Lynchburg, Virginia. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Iona 10-2, Liberty 12-2. Away Record: Iona 7-6, Liberty 5-7. Neutral Record: Iona 0-2, Liberty 2-0. Conference Record: Iona 11-5, Liberty 13-3. Series Record: Iona leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Iona Gaels carry a four-game winning streak into Saturday's BracketBuster matchup with the Liberty Flames.
The recent string of strong play has enabled Iona to improve to 17-10 overall and 11-5 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play. The Gaels put forth their best all-around effort of the season on Wednesday against Manhattan, as that road bout resulted in a staggering 102-65 victory.
As for Liberty, it had a three-game win streak halted on Tuesday with a 79-69 loss at VMI. Members of the Big South Conference, the Flames are now 19-9 overall and 13-3 in league action, and they hope to improve an already impressive 12-2 home record today.
Iona won the only previous meeting between these teams by an 84-68 final during the 1997-98 campaign.
Iona is fortunate to possess the duo of Mike Glover and Scott Machado, who have posted big-time numbers to date. Glover is racking up 18.7 ppg and 10.1 rpg, and he is a 61 percent shooter from the floor. Machado adds 13.9 ppg to the lineup, and he has already handed out 203 assists. Kyle Smyth rounds out a trio of double-digit scorers with 10.1 ppg for Iona, which is generating 79.6 ppg while limiting foes to 70.9 ppg. Against Manhattan on Wednesday, Iona shot a stellar 66.7 percent from the field, including a blazing 16-of-27 effort from three-point range. The Gaels, who played terrific defense as well, got 20 points from Machado on the strength of his 6-of-8 showing from behind the arc. Chris Pelcher and Sean Armand each tallied 13 points, while Rashon Dwight and Trinity Fields both added 12 points.
Liberty is not a high-powered offensive team, but there are four double-digit scorers in the fold. Evan Gordon leads the club with 15.0 ppg, but his 38.5 percent shooting from the field leaves much to be desired. John Brown provides 11.6 ppg and 10.8 rpg, while Jesse Sanders and David Minaya add 11.0 ppg apiece. The Flames are scoring 68.8 ppg on 42.4 percent field goal efficiency, but they have been able to limit foes to 65.1 ppg on 42.0 percent shooting. Against VMI in the 10-point loss earlier this week, Liberty managed to shoot a mere 37.9 percent from the floor, including a 7-of-23 showing from three-point range. Brown was tremendous in defeat, as he scored 22 points and ripped down 16 rebounds while connecting on 10-of-17 shots from the floor. Unfortunately, the rest of the team combined for only 15 field goals. Sanders added 13 points, while Gordon finished with 11.
The edge goes to the road team in this matchup, as Glover and Machado will be too much for Liberty to handle. Expect the Gaels to pull away in the second half.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iona 69, Liberty 60
02/19 10:36:17 ET