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Mastodons win ugly

Dane Fife called it boring. A lot of others were probably more inclined to say it was just butt-ugly.

Either way, call it a "W."

On a night when one team shot 32.6 percent and the other 33.3 percent, it was the 32.6 percent team that prevailed. In a defensive struggle that put a premium on patience if not made shots, IPFW beat Western Illinois tonight 53-49 in a literal battle between two teams that came in winless in the Summit League.

It was a battle that, to say the least, had some interesting storylines:

* Jeremy Mixon's three-pointer with 5:21 to play was IPFW's last field goal, and gave the Mastodons a 51-46 lead that stood up only because Western Illinois went scoreless for the last 3:54, missing five three-pointers in the last 2:18. It was timely in more ways than one, considering Mixon wasn't even on the team a couple of weeks ago, having left the program and the changed his mind.

"He's a good kid," IPFW coach Dane Fife said. "Jeremy's a really good kid. But it takes time to learn to develop those skills when you've been a one-on-one player all your life. In terms of the last 10 days, in life, Jeremy's been doing what we asked him to do. And that wasn't always the case.

"So hat's off to Jeremy. We're glad to have him back."

* In the first half, when IPFW shot 23 percent and went more than 15 minutes with just two field goals, it was little-used Oleg Kovalov to the rescue. Kovalov scored nine of his 11 points in the first half, shot 3 of 5 from the floor and made all four of his free throws.

"Oleg can shoot the ball," Fife said. "Believe me, he's come a long way. I thought he gave us a huge lift off the bench in term sof his scoring and his intensity."

* Despite Western Illinois' tendency to clog the lane on defense, taking away much of his game, Deilvez Yearby scored a game-high 18 points. More importantly, he played with patience in a game that put a premium on it, particularly at the offensive end.

"The good thing with Deilvez is, you're not seeing 6 for 21," Fife said. "You're seeing 6 for 13. So hats off for Deilvez playing 30 minutes and just being patient offensively."