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Local colleges

vs. Western Illinois
When: 7 p.m. today
Radio: 1380 AM

Leathernecks will try to slow down IPFW

– That grinding sound coming out of the Gates Center these days has two fathers, each related in some way to the other.

Grinding Sound No. 1 is the IPFW men’s basketball team shifting gears.

Grinding Sound No. 2 is the reason the Mastodons are shifting gears.

Nebraska-Omaha and its hurry-hurry, rush-rush style is in the rearview, after almost running the Mastodons out of their own house. Coming now is Western Illinois and reigning Summit League Coach of the Year Jim Molinari, who has been a Division I coach for 33 years and whose philosophy, consequently, is “What’s the rush?”

“They’re almost polar opposites,” Jasick said after the Mastodons rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to beat Omaha 86-82 and go to 17-6, 5-1 in the conference. “Western’s very well-coached; (Molinari) has been doing what he does for years and years.”

Which is?

“They want to grind it, grind it out,” Jasick says. “Every possession is critical. So we’re going to have to do a really good job of valuing possessions. We’ve got to get the ball off the rim and get some easy baskets, and get our offense going.”

In an odd way, Omaha was good preparation for that, because the Mastodons had to do their share of grinding to pull it out. They trailed for 27 minutes after an early 8-0 run shot Omaha in front, and it was 54-41 in favor of the visitors with 16:26 to play.

But the Mastodons kept grinding, outrebounding Omaha in the second half after being badly beaten on the glass in the first half. The Mavericks, after hitting six of their first 11 3-point attempts, went 3 of 16 from the arc thereafter. And after falling down by 13, IPFW scored 27 of the next 36 points to finally get a handle on things.

A multitude of valuable lessons ensued.

“I don’t know if grinding out the win is as important as compared to learning the lesson of when a team does bring it to you, how do you respond,” Jasick said. “What do you need to do?”

Whatever it is, it likely will involve the bench. Outscored in the paint and on second-chance points, IPFW made up for it by outscoring Omaha 39-12 in bench points, with Joe Reed (20) and Mo Evans (15) getting 35 of those.

That will be crucial against a Western Illinois team that’s 9-12 and coming off a 69-54 win over IUPUI in which the Leathernecks’ bench outscored IUPUI’s 25-7.

So again, the Mastodons’ work is cut out for them.

“We’ve got to get the ball off the rim and get some easy baskets, and get our offense going,” Jasick says.