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Seton Hall downs Iona for first win

Sandro Mamukelashvili scored seven points in a game-breaking 19-2 second half run Monday night as Seton Hall spoiled coach Rick Pitino's debut with Iona, posting an 86-64 nonconference win in Newark, N.J.

Jared Rhoden paced the Pirates (1-1) with 26 points on just 14 shot attempts, canning three 3-pointers and going 9 of 10 at the line. Mamukelashvili added 18 points and seven rebounds, and Myles Cale was good for 15 points. Tyrese Samuel added 12 in a reserve role.

Isaiah Ross paced the Gaels with 23 points and Nelly Junior Joseph scored 13, but Iona completely ran out of steam over the last 15 minutes, getting outscored by 23 points after Dwayne Koroma's 3-pointer lifted it to a 45-44 lead.

Samuel hit a short jumper to start the big run for Seton Hall, followed by four free throws from Rhoden. After Joseph canned two foul shots for the Gaels, Mamukelashvili checked in with a layup and Shavar Reynolds added a jumper.

Following a Rhoden dunk, Mamukelashvili tacked on a dunk and a 3-point play 35 seconds apart, turning a potential upset into a rout.

The game was set up on 48 hours' notice between Pitino and Pirates coach Kevin Willard, who once worked under Pitino at Louisville. Pitino was fired three years ago after a series of scandals.

The first half was predictably sloppy for two teams that had to pause their preseasons after positive COVID-19 tests. Seton Hall was able to find a rhythm first by hitting seven straight shots and opening up a 22-13 lead on Samuel's dunk with 9:40 left.

However, Iona suddenly clicked into gear and erased the deficit in less than three minutes with a 12-1 burst. Tahlik Chavez drilled a 3-pointer at the 6:46 mark to give the Gaels a 25-23 edge.

Iona expanded the margin to 37-28 on a 3-pointer by Ryan Myers with 2:14 remaining, but the Pirates ended the half by rattling off seven consecutive points. Rhoden made two free throws to cap it, sending them to the locker room trailing 37-35.

--Field Level Media

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