Out of nowhere, it seemed – certainly out of the pack of bodies jostling for position 10 feet away from the Mastodons basket – IPFW 6-foot-8 center Mario Hines appeared. He was alone, as though he committed a false start in a 100-meter dash, except a basketball was coming dead at him.
Michael Kibiloskis out-of-bounds pass from behind the baseline hit Hines in stride and in the hands, and Hines kissed the ball off the glass. And even though it appeared it was about to fall off the front of the rim, the ball hung on the rim, looked around the place for a split second, then fell in with 3.4 showing on the clock.
A Miami of Ohio player threw a desperation three that banged the backboard at the other end, which prompted the 3,033 inside Memorial Coliseum to go bonkers as IPFW beat the Mid-American Conference team 57-56 on Saturday.
I thought, whoooo, IPFW coach Tony Jasick said. I thought it was awfully close to teetering on the outside of the rim.
Hines wasnt sure.
I saw it, and, please go in, and just hoped it went in, and it did, Hines said. I was pretty happy about it.
The win marked only the third time in 27 games that IPFW has beaten a team from the MAC.
Like I told our team, its a big win, Jasick said. Its a good win against what I guess you would for sure call a more established (team). Miami is what it is. Our record here hasnt been real good against Mid-American opponents. So I do think its a big win for our program.
But like I told our guys in the locker room, this stuffs all great. Were going to be real excited. People are going to pat them on the back like crazy for a few days. But if (Saturday) is the highlight of our year, then we really missed a great opportunity to grow and springboard.
The fact that IPFW (5-4) had to rally from a 14-point, second-half deficit to beat the RedHawks (3-3) made the night that much more special.
The combination of Miamis turnover-causing press and IPFWs cold first-half shooting put the Mastodons into a 40-26 hole with less than five minutes gone in the second half. It was a 42-29 game when the IPFW fire ignited.
A 12-0 run, aided by Joe Edwards, who led the team with 10 points, and Kibiloski, who had nine on three three-pointers, got the Mastodons back into the fray. Then it was anybodys game from the midpoint of the second half.
IPFW took a 55-52 lead with 1:09 left, but Miami scored four free throws inside of 20 seconds to go ahead 56-55 with 24.7 left.
With clock stoppages at 12.8 left and another at 4.8, IPFW burned its three remaining timeouts.
The crowd, Jasick began his praise, if they didnt enjoy (Saturday), something dramatically is wrong.