Cougars make NCAA record comeback in defeat of Iona

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DAYTON, Ohio — If anyone was wondering why the NCAA Tournament is referred to as March Madness, all they would have had to do is watch the game between BYU and Iona on Tuesday night.

The Cougars overcame a 25-point deficit to come back and beat the Gaels 78-72, setting the record for the largest comeback victory in NCAA Tournament history. They secured the 14-seed in the West Region of the tournament and will move on to play third-seeded Marquette on Thursday in Louisville, Ky.

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Brigham Young forward Brock Zylstra celebrates after he scored in the closing minute of BYU's 78-72 win over Iona in an NCAA men's college basketball tournament opening-round game, Tuesday, March 13, 2012, in Dayton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Iona started off hot from everywhere on the court, especially from 3-point range , climbing to the largest lead of 25 points in the first half. They shot 58.5 percent from the floor and hit 5-of-10 from beyond the arc.

Meanwhile, the Cougars struggled early to keep up with the frenetic pace that has become the Gaels’ trademark. They started off just 31 percent from the floor, but were able to finish the half shooting 45.9 percent, ending the half on a 9-0 run that planted the roots for the comeback.

BYU senior forward Noah Hartsock led all scorers with 23 points, 17 of which came in the second half to spark the comeback. Junior forward Brandon Davies contributed a double-double, with 18 points and 15 rebounds.

At the beginning of the second half, the Cougars went on a 17-0 run to pull within one point.

Senior forward Mike Glover and sophomore guard Sean Armand led the way for the Gaels in the first half, scoring 10 points each, while senior guard Scott Machado reached his nation-leading average in assists by halftime with 9 dishes.

However, the Cougars got it together in the last four minutes of the half, finishing on a 9-0 run to close the gap to 55-40 at the break. Junior forward Brandon Davies led all scorers with 12 points and 5 rebounds, while freshman guard Anson Winder added 8 points on a perfect 2-for-2 shooting from 3-point range.

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