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Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
IPFW’s Michael Onuorah loses control of the ball and falls on top of Judson’s Marcus Harris in the second half Monday.

Mastodons shake off slow start in big way

If it’s drama you’re into, if it was March Madness in November you were seeking, if it’s last-second heroics that make the trigger trip, then Memorial Coliseum wasn’t the place to be Monday.

In a game dotted by ragged moments but good intentions, IPFW did what it was expected to do in an 85-59 smoker over NAIA opponent Judson, a team that left town with a seven-game losing streak.

Except for the 7-4 deficit 3 1/2 minutes into the game, IPFW (2-1) showed little signs of being threatened. It was bigger, quicker, deeper and more talented on every corner of the floor. And it all showed going into the second half with a cozy 43-26 lead.

But here’s the rub: IPFW coach Tony Jasick wasn’t pleased with the way his team played in the first 20 minutes.

“I think at times, especially with a young team, it can be a challenge when you see on paper what we saw (in Judson),” Jasick said. “We didn’t handle the first half very well at all.

“With a young team moving forward, we’ve got to play against the game. It’s your opponent that’s really irrelevant. We’re trying to get better every day and play against the game, and (Monday) I think we kind of let our opponent – or the perception of our opponent – get in the way of what we’re trying to do.”

What IPFW is trying to do is run. So when freshman starting point guard Jonny Marlin picked up his second foul with 11:18 still to go in the half, another freshman, Isaiah McCray, entered and played the remainder of the half.

Although McCray finished with seven points, he also had seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and was the leadoff man on the 4 x 100 sprint relay employed by the Mastodons.

“In high school, I had a knack for rebounding, even when I was a point guard, so really it was about me being in the right places and boxing whoever was in my area out,” McCray said. “It was finding a knack for the ball, being a ball-chaser.”

It was the 21-3 first-half run by IPFW that eliminated the 7-4 deficit and sent it on its merry way toward the rout. Frank Gaines, who had 16 points, got six of them a minute and a half apart on back-to-back three-point plays. A three-point shot from Jason Smeathers (10 points) and four points each from Mario Hines (16) and Trey McCorkle (17, 10 rebounds) contributed to the runaway.

While four IPFW players were in double figures, it was the assists column that deserves notice as seven players had two or more.