FORT WAYNE – Basketball, as its been often observed, is a game of runs. And the team that has the longest extended scoring run, or the majority of them, usually has the better opportunity of winning.
For most of Thursdays Summit League game at Memorial Coliseum, the Mastodons couldnt put three baskets together without getting an answer from visiting South Dakota. Throughout the first half and halfway through the second, the most consecutive points IPFW scored against the Coyotes were four.
But then came a much-needed seven-point streak – one that brought the Mastodons from a six-point deficit into a one-point lead that catapulted IPFW to a 62-60 victory over South Dakota.
Trailing 48-42, IPFW senior guard Frank Gaines, scoreless the first half on 0-for-7 shooting, dropped in a basket from the right elbow.
Then Luis Jacobo hit a reverse layup, and Pierre Bland tipped back a Gaines miss, marking the first time all night IPFW (9-11, 2-4 Summit League) made three uninterrupted buckets.
It wasnt until Gaines, who missed the first free throw, rolled in the second with 6:42 left that IPFW held its first lead, 49-48. South Dakota went scoreless for nearly five minutes and without a basket for nearly seven during IPFWs run.
From that point on, there were three ties and three lead changes. Two free throws from sophomore point guard Isaiah McCray with 12.5 seconds and one from Gaines with 5.5 left helped to keep the Coyotes (7-12, 3-4) at bay.
Once I stepped up to the line, I knew my teammates had a lot of confidence in me, said McCray, who hurt his neck when he got bumped and fell beneath the South Dakota basket with 9:52 left in the game and didnt return until 33.5 seconds were left.
I just said, Hey, this is going in; its got to go in. You work too hard at it. These are going in; dont worry about missing it; dont worry about doin nothin else; theyre going in. Youll be fine.
And while the offense is credited with seven unanswered points, it was the defense that allowed the brief run.
I dont remember the exact stats where South Dakota is at, but theyre one of the top teams in our league in almost every offensive category – points (second, 71.7), field goal percentage (fifth, 44.2), three-pointers made (seventh, 426) and free throws – both attempted (third, 396) and made (tied for first, 310), IPFW coach Tony Jasick said. And I thought our guys really battled, for the most part, at the defensive end, which gave us a chance when, offensively, we were not at our best. Thats a sign of a team that cares and thats trying to win the game.
Gaines 14 second-half points led IPFW.
Jacobo had 13, and Joe Edwards had 12.