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Welcome back to the Trentonian's Full-Court Press blog. Yes, we're still alive, and with the 2015-16 season rapidly approaching, it's time to fire up the old blog for another season. Check back here throughout the year for updates on all things Rider and Princeton, including coverage of both the MAAC and Ivy League. Feel free to drop me a line on twitter @kj_franko ( or email

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Morning Run — Game 26: Iona 78, Rider 71

Momo Jones had 32 points, helping Iona down Rider/ File Photo by JOHN BLAINE

Quick reaction: Even in defeat, Rider (13-13, 8-6) played pretty well. Iona (15-10, 9-5) simply made big shots when it had to, snapping its three-game losing streak. Lamont Jones had one of those nights where he simply couldn't be stopped. The senior — he's the frontrunner for league Player of the Year — finished with 32 points. Matched against Jon Thompson — one of the top defenders in the conference — Jones had his way. He attacked the rim relentlessly, and for his efforts, shot 13 free throws (he made 11). The Gaels got to the line 26 times, making 21, while the Broncs were 10 of 17. Thompson put in a super performance himself, scoring a career-high 26 points. He had 12 straight Rider points at one stretch in the second half, including a four-point play.

Gaels get tough: Momo Jones and Sean Armand were angry.

Iona had just lost its third straight game — a 105-104 double-overtime heartbreaker at home to Marist — an unfamiliar position for a team that had gone 28-8 in the MAAC over the previous two seasons.

"Speaking for each other, we were angry," said Armand after scoring 24 points and becoming the 34th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point milestone. "We had to come in and play through being hurt, tired, sore. That's the mindset we kept preaching for them. There's no point in feeling sorry for yourself. Nobody really cares at the end of the day so we have to suck it up and move on."

If there was ever a must-win for the Gaels, it was Saturday night against Rider.
Iona coach Tim Cluess/ File Photo by JOHN BLAINE

So coach Tim Cluess relied on his big two to carry the load.

Jones and Armand combined for 56 of the team's 78 points in a seven-point win.

"We needed them to step back up," Cluess said. "It's been a while since they had good games together. If they want to be the leaders of this team, they have to lead on the court during games as well."

Cluess said he watered down the gameplan so all the sets were run for either Jones or Armand, adding that he may have been guilty of trying to spread the wealth too much.

Best to rely on what is a certainty.

For Iona, that's Jones and Armand.

"In a game like this, you need it. When you have a team that is struggling a little bit, guys question what they're doing," Cluess said. "So if you have two players that can take the pressure off the rest of the guys, and say, 'listen, these guys are going to carry us tonight.'

"I think other guys will feel a little more relaxed moving forward knowing Momo and Sean are back."

The MAAC ultimately comes down to three day in March, and to win the conference tournament, Iona likely needs someone else to step up.

Armand's not used to losing. Neither is Jones.

They're trying to get their teammates to understand that, too.

"We want everybody 1-12 to feel the same way," Armand said. "I need the nine new guys to feel the same way and that it takes a lot of hard work to get where we need to go."

Right guard: Jon Thompson flies under the radar in this league because he doesn't put up the gaudy numbers that other guards do.

Make no mistake, Thompson can play. With a career-high 26 points, including a stretch of 12 in a row, he single-handedly gave Rider a chance to win at Iona Saturday night.

Over the last five games, Thompson is averaging 19 points. 

Coach Kevin Baggett challenged him to take this team over. Thompson's done a good job of picking his spots when to score or set up teammates.

That's what makes him so valuable. Baggett knows he wants the ball in his hands and wants to take the big shot.

"I rely on him every night," Baggett said.


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