NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – The Monmouth University women’s basketball team stormed all the way back from down 15 points in the second half at league-leading Iona, but fell to the Gaels, 60-59, on an Aleesha Powell lay-up with 3.5 seconds left Friday evening at the Hynes Athletic Center. With the loss, the Hawks fall to 6-20 (5-10 MAAC), while the Gaels improve to 21-3 (14-1 MAAC).
Chevannah Paalvast (Auckland, New Zealand/Massey) led the Hawks with 20 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks. Freshmen Helena Kurt (Spanga, Sweden/Igelstavikens Gymnasium), Mia Hopkins (Pittston, Pa./Pittston Area) and Jenny Horvatinovic (Red Lion, Pa./Red Lion Area) added seven points apiece for the Hawks, while Jasmine Walker (North Brunswick, N.J./North Brunswick) chipped in with five points and five rebounds.
Damika Martinez scored a game-high 21 points for the Gaels, while Powell (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Joy Adams (11 points, 14 rebounds) added double-doubles for Iona.
“That’s just a heartbreaker,” said Monmouth Head Coach Jenny Palmateer. “It’s one of those games you wish you could’ve pulled out, somehow someway. We battled back against a team that is hard to come back against. They score so many points. We really had some key defensive stops. We did enough to win this game, so it’s just a heartbreaker. I think we would’ve gotten a lot out of a win today.”
Kurt scored the first four points of the game for the Hawks, before the Gaels eventually tied the game at 9-9 on the strength of seven points from Martinez. Iona scored eight of the next 11 points to pull ahead, 17-12, before Paalvast scored five-straight points to tie the game at 17-17. Iona outscored Monmouth, 22-11, the rest of the half to take a 39-28 lead into the break.
Martinez led all first-half scorers with 16, while Powell added 11. Adams added seven points and 11 rebounds for the Gaels. Paalvast led the Hawks with nine points, three assists, two blocks and two steals, while Kurt added five points.
The Gaels built their lead to 15, 49-34, on a pair of Samantha Jeridore free throws with 15:07 left in the second half. But the Hawks held Iona scoreless for a pair of spans of five minutes or more in the final 15 minutes to get back into the game.
Trailing 56-47 with 6:40 left to play, the Hawks went on a 10-0 run to take its first lead since early in the first half. Paalvast sparked the run with a pair of free throws, before Horvatinovic buried a three with 3:31 left to cut the deficit to four. Paalvast followed with a bucket to cut it to two, before Walker buried a long straightaway jumper to tie the game at 56-56 with 2:10 left. Kasey Chambers (Belmar, N.J./St. Rose) made 1-of-2 free throws with 1:49 left to give the Hawks the 57-56 lead and cap the run.
Adams was fouled on a third-chance opportunity and made both free throws with 29.6 seconds remaining, giving Iona a 58-57 lead. Similarly, Danica Dragicevic (Belgrade, Serbia/XV Beogradska Gimnazija) grabbed an offensive board and was fouled with 10 seconds left in regulation. She calmly buried both free throws to give Monmouth a 59-58 lead. But Powell went the length of the floor and banked in a lay-up with 3.5 seconds left for the Gaels. Iona twice knocked away inbounds passes in the final seconds to secure the 60-59 victory.
For the game, the Hawks outshot the Gaels, 37.5 percent (21-56) to 33.9 percent (21-62) from the floor, including a 26.7 percent (4-15) to 20.8 percent (5-24) edge from long range. Iona took an 86.7 percent (13-15) to 72.2 percent (13-18) edge from the free-throw line and a 47-33 advantage on the boards. Monmouth took a 30-18 edge in points in the paint and a 20-9 advantage in points off turnovers.
The Hawks return to MAAC action on the road Sunday when they face longtime conference foe Quinnipiac. Opening tip from the TD Bank Sports Center is scheduled for 1 p.m.