FORT WAYNE – It took a couple of bruised days, a long bus ride home and a fresh challenge to turn the lights back on again for the IPFW men’s basketball team after last week’s heartbreak in Sioux Falls, S.D., where it fell three points short of the NCAA tournament.
It took slightly less than that Wednesday for the Mastodons to turn out the lights on the Akron Zips in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
In the first Division I postseason game in IPFW history, Michael Kibiloski buried two 3-pointers to turn a game that trembled in the balance most of the night, and the Mastodons (25-10) used a 16-7 run to finally put Akron (21-13) in their wake and ignite a 97-91 first-round victory.
First postseason game, meet first postseason victory – and in front of nearly a full house of 1,466 fans in the Gates Center.
I couldn’t be prouder of our team, said IPFW coach Tony Jasick, whose team travels to Athens, Ohio, to play the Ohio Bobcats at 2 p.m. Saturday in the second round. And when I say team, I mean the IPFW team – players, our coaches, our marketing people, our ticketing people, our athletic administration, our university administration for allowing it.
I thought that was an unbelievable event for our campus. Everybody involved needs a pat on the back.
Luis Jacobo scored 23 points to lead five double-figure scorers for the Mastodons, who matched 64.5 percent shooting by Akron with 60 percent shooting of their own, including 54.5 percent (12 of 22) from the 3-point line. Kibiloski led the way with four threes and Jacobo and Mo Evans each had three.
In addition to Jacobo, Steve Forbes added 17 points and seven rebounds, Evans 15 points, Kibiloski a dozen and Pierre Bland 10 points to go with seven assists and six rebounds, helping the Mastodons to a crucial 26-21 advantage on the glass – including 11-6 at the offensive end.
I think that’s kind of who we are, who we’ve been, Jasick said of the offensive balance. When we play that way, we’re pretty good.
They had to be. With Demetrius Treadwell scoring 25 and Quincy Diggs 23, the Zips engaged IPFW in a game of can-you-top-this that featured an astounding 14 ties and 20 lead changes and didn’t end until Kibiloski’s third 3 of the game with 6:59 to play snapped the final tie at 72-72.
Akron answered with two free throws, and then Kibiloski stuck yet another 3 and Joe Edwards splashed a pair of free throws to run the lead to 80-74 with 5:28 remaining.
It was the first time either team had led by more than five, and it was the last time Akron, which shot a molten 66.7 in the first half, ever got closer than five.
I thought that was big, Kibiloski said. We needed that. That just kind of got us going and got the crowd going a little bit. I think all the guys just fed off of that.
Something worked, anyway, at long last.
I think offensively, both teams were really, really good, Jasick said. We tried everything we had (against Akron). We pressed, we zoned, we tried trapping the post, and at the end I think we kept fighting, kept grinding. For us, we were fortunate to make a few more plays late, and we did string together a couple stops later on in the second half to kind of give us a little bit of a cushion.
And now they move on.
I think really everybody was just confident, Forbes said. We knew coming in we could play with anybody and beat anybody. And we came out here and showed it.