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Camaraderie carries IPFW to 20th win

– To IPFW swingman Joe Edwards, the key to unlocking the program’s best season was time spent away from basketball altogether.

Score one for camaraderie, as the Mastodons reached 20 wins for the first time in their NCAA Division I history Sarurday with an 84-60 rout of IUPUI.

“We all love each other,” Edwards said. “We all hang with each other. Chemistry is big off the court.”

And it’s why the sight of point guard Pierre Bland grabbing his right leg and grimacing on the floor in the second half jolted the team .

“It gives you a little irk inside,” Edwards said.

But Bland was fine, and so, too, may be the Mastodons, who snapped a 1-3 slide.

Luis Jacobo had 13 points and nine rebounds as IPFW (20-9, 8-4 Summit League) produced an all-facets domination of the Jaguars (6-23, 1-11), who played their last-ever game at IUPUI Gymnasium.

“I’ll be honest: I thought we were pretty good in just about every area,” Mastodons coach Tony Jasick said.

Jasick scoffed when he realized IUPUI shot 40 percent, but it was clear that a Mastodons team tilted toward offense had spent an entire week of preparation tweaking its defense and rebounding.

“We worked to limit their paint touches, easy baskets and easy driving lanes as a result of the ball screen,” Jasick said.

“I thought we did a pretty good job of that.”

A Jaguars team with limited shooting ability was goaded into 18 3-point attempts and outrebounded 39-21.

“We emphasized it in practice,” Edwards said. “It was good to see it come together in a game.”

The Mastodons’ offense hummed along and shot an eye-popping 65 percent.

“Pretty good,” Jasick said. “We got a lot of good shots.”

Attacking off the dribble for constant looks at the basket, the Mastodons attempted only 10 of their 54 shots from behind the arc and beat a defense that often pressured them from three-quarters court.

Steve Forbes outplayed another hefty center in Mitch Patton to finish with 12 points and nine rebounds for IPFW, while Joe Reed had 12 points and six rebounds off the bench.

Bland, who checked back in after his right ankle was taped, chipped in 10 points, six assists and six rebounds. Michael Kibiloski scored 11 and Mo Evans 10 to give the Mastodons six players in double figures.

IPFW, which came in tied for third place in the conference standings, travels to Western Illinois (Thursday) and Nebraska-Omaha (Saturday) next week to finish the regular season.

“Try to build up for the conference tournament,” Edwards said. “Get these next two and go from there. We want to go to the Big Dance.”

cgoff@jg.net

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