BYU knocks off Iona

Brigham Young forward Brandon Davies (right) fights for a loose ball with Iona forward Mike Glover...

Brigham Young forward Brandon Davies (right) fights for a loose ball with Iona forward Mike Glover during their NCAA men's college basketball game in Dayton, Ohio, March 13, 2012. (MATT SULLIVAN/Reuters)

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, Last Updated: 1:51 AM ET

DAYTON, OHIO - Perhaps March's new moniker should be meltdown.

Noah Hartsock's three-pointer from the right wing capped a furious rally from a 25-point deficit, and BYU held on to stun Iona, 78-72, and claim the largest comeback in NCAA Tournament history.

Western Kentucky rallied from a 16-point deficit to shock Mississippi Valley State in Tuesday's First Four opener, but BYU did one better, fighting back to earn the right to face Marquette in a second-round game in the West region.

Hartsock scored 23 points, Brandon Davies posted 18 points and 15 rebounds and Damarcus Harrison added 12 points for the Cougars (26-8), who held a 43-36 edge on the glass.

"You know, it's part of that March Madness I think and it's a team that's worked hard all year," said Hartsock. "Never given up on anyone. And we just came out here and we got down early but we're just trying to make adjustments."

Scott Machado scored 15 points with 10 assists, Jermel Jenkins recorded 13 points and Mike Glover posted 12 points and nine rebounds for Iona (25-8), which scored 55 points in the first 16 minutes and 17 points in the final 19 minutes.

"I give BYU all the credit for the comeback they made," said Iona head coach Tim Cluess. "They made shots, they made plays. We had opportunities, but I think we were 1-for-15 on threes in the second half. You're not going to beat anyone that way."

Hartsock's wide-open trey from the right wing gave BYU its first lead of the game at 71-70. The trey came after Glover missed an open layup 30 ticks earlier.

Davies made two free throws for a 73-70 lead then Brock Zylstra iced the stunning comeback with a transition three-point play, giving the Cougars a six-point lead with 23 seconds to go. They held on for the improbable victory.

With it pouring threes and fastbreak points in Dayton, Iona scored 55 points in the game's first 16 minutes. Then a drought hit, and the Gaels managed just seven points in the next 16 minutes.

Iona drained five of its first seven triples, overwhelming BYU with its speed on both ends of the floor. Sean Armand's jumper gave the Gaels a 20-10 edge just over five minutes in and two more transition buckets by Glover and Armand made the score 24-10. Lamont Jones' jumper capped off 15 successive points for an 18-point margin not even eight minutes in.

Jones made just two more shots on the night, finishing 3-of-15 for six points to go along with seven rebounds.

The shooting show continued as Ra'Shad James' three-point play gave the Gaels their biggest lead at 49-24 with just over six minutes on the clock. That was the high point for the Gaels, as BYU started to chip into the deficit before halftime. The Cougars trimmed the margin by 10 and went to the locker room in a 55-40 hole.

Iona built the margin back up to 18 at 60-42 on Machado's three-point play, but it closed to seven in the blink of an eye as Davies' jumper and Brock Zylstra's trey brought the Cougars within 62-55 with just over 12 minutes to play. Three straight buckets just over a minute later cut the margin to one, 62-61, and capped 17 straight points in a wave of momentum. That onslaught set up the dramatic finish.

GAME NOTES

Iona shot 69 percent in the first half, but made only 20 percent of its shots in the second half ... The Gaels made 1-of-15 three-pointers in the second half ... BYU made 48.4 percent of its shots. Harrison, who came into the game averaging just three points per game, gave the Cougars a big boost ... BYU committed 20 turnovers, while Iona coughed up 18 ... The game featured just one lead change ... Iona had 17 assists and three turnovers with 4 1/2 minutes left in the first half, but committed 15 turnovers to just two assists the rest of the way.


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