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Stops help Mastodons get going

– It’s a nightly defensive plea from the IPFW assistant coaches who find it difficult to remain tethered to the bench.

“Get a stop, right here!” Dan Bere wailed more than once Wednesday night. “C’mon. Right here! Let’s go!”

But when visiting Navy is shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor, and knocking down 10 of 19 from three-point range, the begging for defensive stands nearly went unheeded.

There was a five-minute stretch, though, when Navy went cold, IPFW got hot, and the Mastodons turned a four-point deficit into a 68-63 victory in front of 1,411 at the Gates Center.

“We talked about getting consecutive stops,” IPFW coach Tony Jasick said of the timeout with 7:07 remaining and the Mastodons trailing 54-50. “Offensively, we were pretty darn good, and it’s the same thing I told our team at halftime: Whichever team would string together three or four stops in a row is going to win the game. I felt like we did that during that period. That led to a couple easy baskets in transition, and we got a couple of rhythm threes for guys who can make them.”

After the timeout, IPFW’s Frank Gaines dropped two free throws and a three-pointer from the left wing. Luis Jacobo hit another three, and Joe Edwards broke out for a fast-break layup off a feed from Isaiah McCray to send the Mastodons in front 60-54, which prompted a timeout called by Navy coach and former Penn State coach Ed DeChellis.

Although the Midshipmen (6-9) got within 60-58, Edwards’ bucket from the right baseline and a rebound basket from Mario Hines sent the Mastodons (7-9) ahead by six points with 49 seconds left.

Jacobo led IPFW with 22 points, followed by 17 from Gaines and 15 from Edwards.

“We wanted to start off the new year with a win,” Edwards said.

“I believe if we keep coming with the energy, not a lot of teams can play with us. We’ve just got to get better on defense and get around screens. We really wanted to get this win.”

stwarden@jg.net

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