Iton's Buzzer-Beater Lifts Utica Past Ithaca

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Utica, NY – Utica College's Ivan Iton (Ossining, NY/Ossining) grabbed an offensive rebound with one second on the clock and then made the game winning layup as time expired to defeat Ithaca College, 75-74, in Empire 8 Conference action on Tuesday night at the Clark Athletic Center. The Pioneers have now won nine games in Empire 8 play for the first time since the 2008-09 season and remain in the hunt for a berth into the Empire 8 Conference Tournament for the first time since 2013.

The Pioneers, winners of three in a row, improve to 9-15 overall and 9-6 in the Empire 8 after Tuesday's thrilling home victory. Ivan Iton (Ossining, NY/Ossining) finished with game-highs of 21 points and 13 rebounds, earning a double-double. Iton was able to join the 500 rebound club, as he became the tenth player in program-history to record at least 500 career rebounds.  He also was able to surpass 800 career points in the contest.
The Bombers held an early lead in the first half, going up 12-6 with 16:53 remaining in the half. The Pioneers went on a 9-3 run in 3:36 to tie the game up at 15-15, with 11:45 on the clock. Over the span of 5:07, Ithaca went on an 18-2 run to take a 33-17 lead, with only 5:34 before halftime. A trio of 3-point baskets by UC in the final two minutes of the first half cut Ithaca's lead down to just seven points at halftime, making the score 42-35. Iton led the team in scoring at the half, with 11 points to go with his five rebounds.
After being down 16 points at one time in the game, the Pioneers were able to battle back and take a 54-52 lead with 12:11 remaining on the clock in the second half. The game was neck and neck all the way down to the wire and in the final 12 minutes the score was tied six times with eight lead changes. Ithaca converted on a layup to take a 74-73 lead with just 12 seconds left in regulation. As the clock winded down, Miles McNeill (Rochester, NY/Aquinas) drove to the basket and missed a layup with two seconds remaining. Iton was able to come up with the offensive rebound and put up the game winning layup just in time, in order to give UC the one point victory.
Iton recorded 21 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks to lead the Pioneers to victory. Bennito Ayarza (Brooklyn, NY/Cayuga Community College) scored 14 second half points on his way to tallying 19 points, four assists, and four steals in the contest. Tyler Jollie (Marlboro, NY/Marlboro) contributed off the bench by adding 13 points in the game, going 3-for-5 from behind the 3-point arc. Hunter Remley (Cranford, NJ/Cranford) finished with eight points and a career-high of eight rebounds in the game. UC outscored Ithaca in the paint, 46-32, and shot 48.4% from the field.
The Bomber's (8-16 overall, 4-11 E8) leading scorer in the game was Riley Thompson, as he tallied 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the floor. Matt Flood also reached double digit points with 16 while Joey Flanagan added 12 points coming off the bench. Peter Ezema finished with seven points, six rebounds, and eight steals.
The Pioneers will be back at home on Saturday to close out the regular season against Elmira (3-20 overall, 1-13 E8) with the playoffs on the line. This crucial Empire 8 matchup is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Utica needs one win and a Hartwick loss to secure a bid into the conference tournament.