In the end, the showdown was a blow-down.
In a rare Gates Center battle between Mid-Major Top 25s – No. 22 Eastern Kentucky vs. No. 23 IPFW – it was all the visitors Sunday afternoon, as the Colonels (9-4) took advantage of a deep Mastodon drought to open an 11-point halftime lead that eventually became a 90-68 beatdown.
They were better than us today, IPFW mens basketball coach Tony Jasick said. I thought we did a poor job defensively for most of the game. If they can play halfcourt defense, they really can do a good job of taking you out of what you want to do. And I thought that was very evident as they scored and were able to get their defense up.
The punch-out ended a four-game winning streak for the Mastodons (10-5), and it died by degrees, with 13 turnovers and shot after shot refusing to bed down, rolling or skittering or bouncing obstinately off the iron.
And a deep, athletic Eastern Kentucky team made them pay for it, making 11 3s in 21 attempts and outscoring the Mastodons 14-4 on second-chance points and 20-8 off turnovers. Four Colonels scored in double figures, led by Marcus Lewis with 17 points and Eric Stutz with 16 and nine rebounds.
The Colonels led by as many as 25 in the second half.
IPFW started fast, blowing out to leads of 10-1 and 22-13 in the first eight-and-and-a-half minutes. But then 6-foot-9 forward Steve Forbes picked up two quick fouls, and the wind changed.
I thought that changed the game, Jasick said.
It certainly changed the momentum.
While the Mastodons went largely silent, making just two field goals across the next 7 and a half minutes, Eastern Kentucky peeled off 11 straight points and 21 of the next 25. The Colonels outscored IPFW 33-13 across the last 11:31 as the Mastodons made just 9 of 22 shots and turned it over eight times in the first half. IPFW never got closer than 11 in the second half.
This is one those that were gonna use to motivate us, said Luis Jacobo, who led IPFW with 13.