FORT WAYNE – Frank Gaines got his points, as usual – 24 of them, in fact – in IPFWs 73-56 home-opening win over Rochester on Tuesday at Memorial Coliseum.
In addition to the fact that IPFW won the game, the difference Tuesday was that the 6-foot-4 senior guard found a support system when Mario Hines added 17 and junior college transfer Luis Jacobo added 15.
In the Mastodons first game, a 61-50 loss to Auburn, Gaines had 32 points and everybody else combined for 18, without another player in double figures.
I felt horrible, said Jacobo, a 6-5 forward who had one point against Auburn. I was really upset with myself. I know everybody had somewhat of a bad game, but in my mind, Im thinking Frank is a great player. I want to see him be player of the year. To do that, he has to be on a great team. He needs to have people around him.
Coach recruited me, Kevin (Harden), Pierre (Bland) – just to name a few players – to come in and help him, and I feel like we didnt do that against Auburn, and we had a great opportunity. Its kind of like we let it go to waste.
Even though he had a dozen points in both halves, Gaines wasnt the whole show Tuesday against Rochester (7-2).
It was back-to-back three-pointers from Jacobo that helped IPFW grab a 42-26 halftime lead, and it was a dunk by Isaiah McCray and a putback by Hines early in the second period that jumped the lead to 18.
But as IPFW slumped midway through the second half, Rochester caught momentum and got within 51-46 with 9:14 still to play.
While Gaines hit four straight free throws and Hines added a dunk of his own, Jacobo answered with a three and a driving layup to send the Mastodons into a 62-51 lead with 4:56 left.
We were pretty good in the first half, IPFW coach Tony Jasick said. Our defense created a lot of things for us. In the second half, we got kind of loose and we didnt put together a complete game (Tuesday). But I do think were making progress. Weve got a lot of errors we can improve on, but we did do a number of good things (Tuesday).
And he found some added offense to help Gaines.
I wasnt worried, Jasick said. Weve got talented offensive players. As they continue to get more comfortable with what were trying to do, how were trying to play defensively, and start going through some games, theyll be fine.