Mastodons crush Jaguars, advance to Summit League semifinals

By Robert Myers, Sports Editor

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The second-seeded Fort Wayne Mastodons made their first step towards a possible Summit League men’s basketball championship with an 85-47 throttling of seventh-seeded IUPUI on Saturday night.

The victory, which was number 23 on the year, gives them their winningest season in program history and the margin of victory of Saturday’s game is the largest in any Summit League Tournament since 1994 when Green Bay beat Western Illinois by 40 points.

Entering the game 1-13 in league play, many likely thought that IUPUI would not stand much of a chance against the 10-4 Mastodons, but for the first 12 minutes of play the Jaguars held their own, leading by two on separate occasions and trailing by no more than four.

“We got off to a start that I think was manageable,” said IUPUI head coach Todd Howard. “But just a quick turnaround – whether it’s a turnover for a layup or we miss an open three, they hit two open threes, and then cushion’s there and it kind of grows.”

Ultimately IUPUI’s early success would prove short-lived as IPFW continued to pound the paint to the tune of 26 first half points. Despite losing their big man Steve Forbes for the latter minutes of the half due to foul trouble, the Mastodons did not let up and, with Joe Reed filling in for Forbes, expanded their lead to 18 going into halftime.

“They’re completely different players,” IUPUI’s Mitch Patton said. “… I’ve got to just do my best to push him [Forbes] out and when he gets going and he lowers that shoulder you’ve got to just hold your ground the best you can and Reed uses his quickness … When the other player trying to bulldoze you the whole time, a quick player is a tough adjustment.”  

Unlike two versus seven women’s game which saw a second half comeback from the seven-seed, the second half only proved to increase the margin as the Mastodons began the half with an 18-5 scoring run that in effect put the game out of reach.

IPFW dominated nearly every statistical category, finishing the game with a 16 rebound edge and outshooting the Jaguars by 16 percent of the field, many of those made baskets coming in the paint where the Mastodons held a 48-26 scoring advantage. IPFW also garnered 23 points off of IUPUI turnovers.

Four players finished in double figures for the Mastodons, led by Luis Jacobo who scored 19 and pulled down seven rebounds. Mo Evans added 13 points. Forbes scored 11 and grabbed nine rebounds, and Joe Edwards had 10 points.

On the IUPUI side, Patton’s 18 points and Ian Chiles’ 12 points made up nearly two-thirds of Jaguars’ scoring on the night.

IPFW will advance to the Monday’s 8:30 semifinal matchup versus the winner of tomorrow night’s game between third-seeded SDSU and sixth-seeded Western Illinois.

“When we get some stops, we’re pretty good on the offensive end and I think that showed tonight,” IPFW head coach Tony Jasick said. “Hopefully we can translate some of that on Monday.”

If the Jacks move forward in Sunday night’s game, Monday will be a battle in the paint as both teams have similar strengths and philosophy.