FORT WAYNE – Forget the meat locker outside the Gates Center doors, God’s freezer unit taking yet another unrequested bow.
It was inside that the chill was especially pronounced Thursday night.
IPFW’s women missed nine of their first 12 shots, 20 of 28 by halftime, 40 of 58 overall, and when the missing was done, so were the Mastodons, as Summit League leader South Dakota State led wire-to-wire in a 77-66 win.
In the end, a miserable first half sunk the Mastodons (11-11, 4-4), who outscored South Dakota State 42-31 in the second half but couldn’t make a 22-point halftime deficit (46-24) disappear. In the end, the Mastodons missed 11 free throws and 22 of 30 3-point attempts, were outscored 30-14 in the paint and 17-4 on second-chance points.
That obviously wasn’t the start we were looking for, IPFW coach Chris Paul said.
I’ve got to give South Dakota State a lot of credit, they came out here focused and they knocked shots down early. And then we missed some shots and we just couldn’t get any rhythm, and all of a sudden we were down by 25 points.
And that deficit started early.
The Jackrabbits (17-7, 8-0) opened with a three-point play and then a 3-pointer, and IPFW foundered in South Dakota State’s wake for the rest of half. After Amanda Hyde made a bucket to cut it to 9-6 with 15:57 to play in the half, IPFW made just one field across the next 9:41, during which South Dakota State outscored the Mastodons 25-3.
Mostly that happened on the defensive end, where the Jackrabbits throttled the Mastodons everywhere, outrebounding them 18-8 on the defensive glass and 24-12 overall, and harassing them into 3-of-13 misfiring from the 3-point line.
South Dakota State, meanwhile, was 6 of 11 from the arc and outscored IPFW 20-6 in paint.
I definitely think we came out slow, and I definitely think we came out passive, said Haley Seibert, who led the Mastodons with 23 points.
I know myself I wasn’t looking for my shot, I was a little passive. I just think we came out slow.
It all added up to an impossible catch-up job for IPFW, which nonetheless gave it a run, using a ferocious press to squeeze 18 turnovers out of the Jackrabbits and outscore them 17-9 across the last six minutes before falling short.
I think we did a really good job, especially defensively, just turning up the tempo and creating more turnovers, said Seibert, whose free throws with 1:27 left got the Mastodons as close as they would get, 72-62.
Something to build on.
I think what you saw is the same thing this team has done all year, Paul said.
There really is no quit in them. If losing a basketball game causes us to win six straight, then I’ll take it. Because if we play as hard as we did in that second half, we can run the table from here on out.