FORT WAYNE – Her first shot was a made layup, with her team already down and about to go down further. So maybe, as omens go, it didn’t exactly look like an omen at first.
Thirty-five points, seven 3-pointers, three rebounds, two assists and a steal later, the camouflage was gone from Haley Seibert’s day. As it was for the rest of the IPFW Mastodons.
With Seibert carrying the weight and a host of others finding ways to contribute, Mastodons (10-8, 3-1 Summit League) overcame a sluggish start at both ends to finish at warp speed, blowing out South Dakota 96-78 at the Gates Center in a game that looked nothing like the final score for most of the afternoon.
The (final) score, that’s not the way the game was, said IPFW coach Chris Paul, whose team outscored South Dakota 19-3 across the last 4:32 to finish a game that had seven ties and 15 lead changes. It was a tight game, and we’ve been in a lot of tight games. We just had to become more aggressive on the glass. And then something clicked there late in the second half and they were one (shot) and done.
Once we got some stops, we took off in transition, we knocked a couple shots down, we started feeling confident and we were able to stretch this thing out. But really it was the rebounding and the one-and-dones that fueled the 19-3 run.
That and a lot of all-hands-on-deck work. Amanda Hyde finished with 23 points, five rebounds and six assists despite missing seven minutes in the second half with foul trouble. Rebecca Bruner, with her team getting pulverized on the glass, grabbed six rebounds and help fuel IPFW’s 14-5 rebounding edge across the last 11 minutes. And Rachel Rinehart came in to score 12 points, grab three rebounds and dish three assists.
She also, with Hyde on the bench, ignited the key sequence of the game, fighting inside for a layup, banking in a 3, grabbing a defensive rebound at the other end and feeding Seibert for a layup that took the Mastodons from a 75-73 lead with 5:11 to play to an 82-75 lead with 3:44 left that began IPFW’s big run.
My teammates did a really good job of setting screens and finding me, said Seibert, whose 35 points were a career high. Any time Amanda goes out, we know we all have to elevate our game that much more. And everyone did a good job of stepping up and doing what they needed to do.
Seibert scored 20 of her total in the first half to help the Mastodons dig themselves out of an early 13-4 hole to take a 44-43 lead at the half. Hyde, meanwhile, scored 17 of her 23 in the second half, including six in the last 2:19 after returning to the lineup with four fouls.
I think early on we were overthinking, said Paul, whose team limited South Dakota forward Polly Harrington (24 points) to nine points in the second half after she gave the Mastodons fits in the first half. We were overthinking where we needed to be, should we pressure; it affects our offense, and suddenly we’re down 13-4.
I made some substitutions and challenged some people. Bench came in and did a great job to get the thing back and at least give us a one-point lead. But I’m proud of the starting group because after I challenged them they came back in and responded.