Iona And BYU

March 14, 2012 by staff 

Iona And BYU, BYU pulled off the biggest comeback in NCAA tournament history on a wild opening night. Noah Hartsock scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half and the Cougars rallied from 25 points down to beat Iona 78-72 in the first round Tuesday night.

Brandon Davies added 18 points and Damarcus Harrison 12 for the 14th-seeded Cougars (26-8), who advanced to play third-seeded Marquette on Thursday in Louisville, Ky.

It marked the biggest comeback in an NCAA tournament game, the organization said. Previously, the largest deficit overcome was 22 points in 2001 when Duke fought back to beat Maryland 95-84 in the national semifinals.

It was the second incredible turnaround of the night in Dayton. With President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron watching, Western Kentucky came back from a 16-point deficit in the final five minutes to beat Mississippi Valley State 59-58.

Iona (25-8) seemed assured of its first official NCAA tournament victory after dominating the first half. But despite 15 points and 10 assists by Scott Machado, the Gaels dropped to 0-8 in NCAA play. Their lone win in 1980 was vacated due to NCAA violations.

Iona came in as the nation’s top-scoring team at 83.2 points per game and didn’t disappoint — at least in the opening 16 minutes. The Gaels scored 55 points in an eye-popping display of passing wizardry and outside shooting. Then they didn’t score over the final 4:30 of the first half.

Machado, averaging just under 10 assists a game, had nine at the break.

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