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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 2:59 pm

Mastodons march to 6th straight win

Kyle Rowland The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – After IUPUI’s win at IPFW on Jan. 4, it set in motion murmurs about the Mastodons and their inability to duplicate last season’s success and perform under pressure. 

So much for the what-ifs. Six weeks later, it all feels like hyperbole and doomsday rhetoric.

IPFW’s 69-54 triumph at IUPUI on Wednesday at Indiana Farmers Coliseum is its sixth consecutive win, matching the program’s longest streak since 2012-13 and furthering its climb up the Summit League standings.

In three weeks, IPFW has gone from last place to fourth.

"It’s great. The energy is fabulous," said senior forward Steve Forbes, who finished with 12 points, six rebounds and six blocks. "Everyone is booming on campus. We’re playing at a great level right now.

"Our confidence is high. Our camaraderie is huge. Everyone is playing together, and as you can see, we’re clicking on all cylinders."

The Mastodons (14-11, 7-5 Summit), who failed to score in the game’s opening four minutes, went on a 33-14 run over both halves, including scoring the first seven points of the second half. They did it with defensive intensity that has become a mainstay during their recent surge.

IUPUI (8-17, 4-7) turned it over 11 times – six by steals – and allowed 16 points off turnovers. IPFW’s poor start gave way to a scintillating finish – from 4-of-14 shooting to 25 of 49. It shot 60 percent from the field over the final 30 minutes.

"I don’t know if there was one thing that turned it around, but we didn’t get it into the post early in the game," IPFW coach Jon Coffman said. "Playing inside-out has been our staple, getting it into Steve. There’s just a resilience about our guys, and they finally got their rhythm."

Chalk up rush-hour traffic as another issue. It took IPFW’s team bus 20 minutes to navigate downtown Indianapolis and get to the arena.

"The traffic was crazy," Coffman said. "I’ll take the blame or maybe we’ll put it on our bus driver. We showed up 20 minutes late, which was right. We started playing about 20 minutes into the game."

Four IPFW players finished in double figures, with Joe Edwards and Indianapolis native Max Landis leading the way with 14 points apiece. Landis, the Summit League’s reigning player of the week, added six assists and five rebounds. Mo Evans, also an Indy native, had 11 points and five rebounds.

Concordia graduate D.J. McCall, a freshman starter for IUPUI, recorded two rebounds and an assist.

The Mastodons missed their first five field goal attempts. But when your opponent starts just 3 of 11 from the field – which is what IUPUI did – a poor four minutes is negated. The first half was far from a shooting exhibition as the teams combined to go 25 of 58 from the field.

A 12-2 IPFW run midway through the half erased a three-point deficit, and it kept the foot on the gas pedal. The Mastodons ended the half outscoring IUPUI 26-14.

"We just go one game at a time," Coffman said. "We’ve learned. But I know we can shoot it a lot better. We can continue to get better. I don’t know (what our ceiling is). It keeps rising, but we have a ways to go to be ready to be successful in March."

krowland@jg.net