There was a slight break between games, so I got to check out the MAAC's version of the FanFest, which was significantly better than America East, primarily because going to it was a strictly voluntary activity.
But it also had booths for every team, and I walked in on the Mascot Game, which was well...interesting.
Of course, when I got to the Marist booth, I was reminded that I should probably get back to the arena for the second of four from Springfield:
Under normal circumstances, when an upset-minded underdog with the crowd behind them jumps out to an 11-2 lead, it's a slight cause for alarm.
But, to my knowledge and slowly dwindling vision at least, I never even saw Iona break a sweat. And all I saw from the Gaels fans in attendance was a collective yawn.
Sure enough, Sean Armand started hitting jumpers, Scott Machado started controlling the game, and Mike Glover owned the boards in the next few minutes, and by the midway part of the first half, the game was tied.
But the Red Foxes, who I saw get absolutely run out of their home gym by Iona back in January (this was another matchup that saw both regular season games recapped by the 800 Games Project), seemed to have an answer for everything Iona threw at them, particularly freshman Chavaughn Lewis, who had 11 at the break.
Iona led 35-33 at halftime, but it certainly seemed like Marist was in the game. They sprinted to the locker room, their crowd and relatively large student section saluted them.
Fatigue was kicking in for me by this point, this was game three of five on a day that had started with an 8 a.m. little kids' indoor soccer game. I decided to wake myself back up by doing a couple of laps around the concourse, where I ran into some Iona fans.
Their reaction to their team being in trouble? This was an elimination game after all, and they weren't going to the NCAA Tournament (likely) if they didn't win this one, no matter how good a season they had in the MAAC.
"They're just getting started. Don't worry," I was told.
Okay, we'll see.
As I got back to my seat, Lewis had a steal to start the second half. Here we go.
But there was something different about Machado. As Lewis went to the basket moments later, Machado stripped him and hit Momo Jones for a layup. On the next possession, Machado found Armand for a jumper. A couple of minutes later, he found Kyle Smyth, then scored himself, and finally hit Glover for a layup, all in a 45-second span.
Iona was suddenly up 13. Timeout, Marist. Goodbye, Marist.
The thing that the Gaels fans knew that I should have been able to figure out is that Machado is not the nation's leader in assists and a possible NBA lottery pick by accident.
He came out of the locker room, switched gears, and it was over. Quickly. Marist didn't have that gear, and they suddenly looked tired and overmatched, as they did the first time I saw this matchup. Lewis (25 points) gamely kept attacking, but resistance was futile, Iona was able to empty their bench en route to an 87-63 rout.
Machado finished with a meaty 18 points, eight assists, and six rebounds; while Glover added 29 points and nine boards.
As I Tweeted after the game: "If they play like they did in the second half, no one here is touching Iona. Sorry."
Well, that would be a strange premonition of things to come, wouldn't it? If only I hadn't left my trusty Magic 8-Ball in the car.
IONA 87, MARIST 63 03/03/2012
MARIST 14-18 (7-11) -- C. Lewis 10-17 5-8 25; D. Price 1-3 0-0 3; I. Morton 7-19 0-0 17; A. Kemp 4-5 0-0 8; J. Bowie 3-7 0-0 6; M. Thomas 0-2 0-0 0; R. Hall 2-6 0-0 4; P. Prinsloo 0-0 0-0 0; A. Alexis 0-0 0-0 0; T. Curry 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 27-61 5-8 63. IONA 25-6 (15-3) -- L. Jones 5-8 1-3 11; S. Machado 7-9 4-5 18; M. Glover 11-18 7-10 29; T. Ridley 1-4 2-2 4; S. Armand 4-9 0-0 10; K. Smyth 2-3 0-0 4; J. Jenkins 2-6 2-2 7; T. Fields 0-1 0-0 0; J. Gomez 0-0 0-0 0; R. James 0-0 0-0 0; N. Moikobu 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 34-60 16-22 87.
Three-point goals: MAR 4-15 (R. Hall 0-2; D. Price 1-2; J. Bowie 0-2; C. Lewis 0-2; I. Morton 3-7), IONA 3-12 (S. Machado 0-2; J. Jenkins 1-3; K. Smyth 0-1; S. Armand 2-6); Rebounds: MAR 27 (A. Kemp 9), IONA 33 (M. Glover 7); Assists: MAR 14 (I. Morton 4), IONA 18 (S. Machado 8); Total Fouls -- MAR 19, IONA 12; Fouled Out: MAR-A. Kemp; IONA-None.