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It takes time, but Iona gets into win column

February 04, 2007|From the Associated Press

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — All season long, as the losses mounted without a victory, Iona Coach Jeff Ruland told his players to hang in and focus only on their next game.

"The kids have been great. They've taken it one game at a time, and kept playing hard," Ruland said Saturday after the Gaels ended their distinction as Division I's only winless team by defeating Rider, 69-57.

Devon Clarke scored 19 points and Justin Marshall came off the bench to score 12 points for Iona (1-22 overall, 1-12 in the Metro Atlantic Conference), which had lost 23 in a row dating to the first round of last season's NCAA tournament.

The Gaels' last victory came on March 6, 2006 when they beat St. Peter's, 80-61, in the conference championship game.

"Coach [Ruland] has always said this streak would end if we played 40 minutes," said Marshall, a senior forward. "The last couple games, we played 39:57 and it hasn't worked out. But we knew if we played hard and didn't let up, this would be the result."

The Gaels have lost three games in overtime and two others in regulation by one point this season.

With three would-be starters (representing 30.3 points per game) sidelined by injury or academic issues, Iona started five freshmen, including guards Mike Harris and De'Shaune Griffin, who scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Jason Thompson scored 18 points for the Broncs (12-10, 6-6), who have lost four of six.

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