by David Cassilo / @dcassilo

The first day of the NCAA tournament already provided a game for the ages as Iona blew a 25-point lead to BYU. When all was said and done the Gaels fell to the Cougars, 78-72.

Iona, the much-debated last team in the field, came out firing early. The Gaels built up a lead the reached 49-24 with just over six minutes remaining in the first half. The Cougars, though, began to claw back. By switching to a zone defense, BYU was able to hold Iona to just 17 points in the second half. A three-pointer by Nate Hartsock with nearly two minutes remaining gave the Cougars a 71-70 lead. They never relinquished it again.

For Iona, who seemed destined for at least one more tournament game, the loss was a tough pill to swallow.

From The Salt Lake Tribune:

“At the end of the day, we lost a game that we should have won,” said Iona point guard Scott Machado, who had 10 assists, but just one in the second half. “It sucks. It sucks.”

BYU will now live to see another day and will face No. 3 Marquette in the second round of the tournament. The Cougars are two wins away from their second straight Sweet 16.