Former Louisville Basketball Head Coach Rick Pitino is headed back to the NCAA Tournament after his Iona Gael won the MAAC Championship on Saturday night. Pitino has been at Iona for 3 seasons and now has 2 MAAC Tournament championships. This is Pitino’s 15th league tournament overall: 2 MAAC, 2 America East, 5 SEC, 2 C-USA, 3 Big East, 1 AAC.
Additionally Rick Pitino has been linked to the recently vacant head coaching position at St. John’s following Mike Anderson’s termination. Pitino is 712-289 all-time.
The top-seeded Gaels never trailed in a 76-55, wire-to-wire win over No. 11 Marist in the final Saturday night. The Gaels controlled the game from the opening tip and never looked in the rearview mirror. Iona controlled the opening half, leading for the entire frame. Tied at 2-2, the Gaels scored the game’s next eight points to go ahead 10-2. Marist cut the deficit to four points but Iona scored five straight to push the lead to nine, owning a 15-6 lead. The Gaels maintained the advantage, keeping the Red Foxes no closer than a handful of points. With 1:51 to play in the half, Sadiku Ibine Ayo knocked down a three for Iona to extend the lead to its largest of the half at 11 points (33-22). The Gaels would take a 35-26 advantage into the locker room.
Marist battled back in the second, opening up the final period with a 20-9 run over the first 9:35 to knot the game at 46-46. Capping off the run was a triple from the wing by Kam Farris. For the remainder of the game, Iona outscored Marist by a wide margin of 30-9, leading to the 76-55 win.