A little advice for Iona’s upcoming opponents: Don’t leave forward Randy Dezouvre open in late-game situations. Ever.
The senior sealed Iona’s dramatic 80-78 overtime win at Denver on Wednesday night by drilling a 19-footer with 1.6 seconds remaining in the extra period of a battle between two of the nation’s top mid-majors.
Scott Machado drove to the bucket, Denver’s Chase Hallam followed him and teammate Chris Udofia went to help. Machado found Dezouvre open near the top of the key, where the Montreal native hit the game-winner.
Coaches and players weren’t surprised. Dezouvre has been a clutch player in Iona’s practices.
The day before the Denver game, Machado’s practice squad lost an intrasquad scrimmage after Dezouvre hit the winner for the opposing team. And that wasn’t the first time.
“He’s hit that shot four times, at least, to win the game in practice,” Machado told ESPN.com. “He’s consistently doing that.”
Dezouvre said he had a flashback after he hit the game-winner Wednesday. But it wasn’t tied to a clutch shot he’d hit in practice.
In 2009, his Monroe College (N.Y.) squad was down by one in overtime with eight seconds to play against junior college power Southern Idaho. Dezouvre found space in the corner and hit the game-winning 3-pointer.
“One of the guards drove and I was open for the 3,” Dezouvre said about the 2009 matchup in Las Vegas. “It was real similar [to Wednesday night].”
Dezouvre is averaging just 5.0 points per game off the bench. But his clutch performance points to Iona’s surprising depth.
“That’s what makes us good, we do have more depth,” he said.
Cluess said he was disappointed by his team’s energy level Wednesday. The Gaels were down by 13 in the second half. They committed 19 turnovers and recorded 11 assists. They entered Wednesday’s game leading the nation in assists with more than 21 per game.
But Cluess also said he was proud of the way his team fought on the road, a point buttressed by its willingness to fight off a second-half deficit and finish strong in overtime.
And now he knows what to do whenever the game is on the line.
“We’ll just throw [Dezouvre] the ball from anywhere,” Cluess joked.
Or maybe, he wasn’t joking.