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The Journal Gazette

Monday, March 13, 2017 10:03 pm

IPFW relishes home game

Aubree Reichel | The Journal Gazette

In a mid-major men’s basketball program, losing in the conference tournament leaves teams disappointed.

Both IPFW and Ball State felt they had the teams capable of an NCAA Tournament appearance and both fell short of that goal.

With that, both programs are grateful for the challenge of facing each other in the first round of the Postseason Tournament, announced Sunday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Gates Center.

"The conference tournament, the stakes are so high for us and Fort Wayne so when you lose it, it’s a disappointment so the opportunity to play again is great," Cardinals coach James Whitford said in a phone interview. "It lifts your spirits and gives your team another chance to play, and that’s really valuable."

The game also provides one final opportunity for the Mastodons seniors to play in the Gates Center to open the program’s fourth consecutive postseason tournament.

"I really feel a lot of pride in this senior class and the fact that this group was able to win the 100th game in the last five years," IPFW coach Jon Coffman said, "which is a tremendous accomplishment at the mid-major level. The fact that we’ve been able to play in four straight postseasons is really, really special.

"We get to play in front of our home crowd and the fact that we have Ball State, a team that, unfortunately, we’ve never been able to work out a home-and-home in my six years here and they have great talent, they’ve had a great year and have two good years back-to-back. I have a lot of respect for their coaching staff."

The Muncie Star Press reported that Ball State has declined any opportunity to play host to any CIT games due to the cost of hosting.

The costs, though, are not an issue for IPFW.

"Our campus was presented with the opportunity to provide this postseason student-athlete experience in a fiscally responsible way," IPFW athletic director Kelley Hartley Hutton said.

"All costs associated with the event will be covered by ticket and concession revenue from Wednesday’s game."