Saturday, January 20, 2018 9:00 pm
Indiana Tech 74, Cornerstone 67
Indiana Tech men down top-ranked team
MARK SCHUTTE | For The Journal Gazette
Chalk one up for the student over the teacher.
But more importantly, chalk up another eye-opening win for the Indiana Tech men’s basketball team.
The No. 5 Warriors defeated No. 1 Cornerstone 74-67 on Saturday at the Schaefer Center, ending the Golden Eagles’ 19-game winning streak and snapping Tech’s 14-game losing streak to the Eagles.
For first-year Warriors coach Ted Albert, the win came against his alma mater, where he played on an NAIA national championship team in 2011 and then served six seasons as an assistant for his mentor, Kim Elders, winning another national title in 2015.
“Obviously I have a lot of respect for that program,” Albert said. “I grew up there. Coach E has taught me a lot about the game of life and the game of basketball. So I owe them a lot, but at the same time they were on the other side of the line today. It’s never about that, it’s always about matchups and what we can present to the other team to create an advantage for us and vice versa.
“I’m just happy with the effort. A lot of the things that we did today with the outrebounding, less turnovers, diving on the floor, a lot of those hustle plays, those are choices. I was thankful we were willing to make that choice and sacrifice.”
It seems those choices have been common since Albert arrived at Tech last spring. The Warriors (19-4, 11-2 WHAC) opened the season with wins over then No. 2 Union and No. 3 Saint Francis and have been improving ever since.
“I think we all know where he came from, having the success he had there,” junior Dylan Phair said of Albert. “He won a national championship as a coach and won a national championship as a player. He’s the only one that’s a part of this group that’s won a national championship. We really have no choice but to listen to him, because he knows what it takes to win a championship.”
The fact the Warriors’ latest big win came against the program that Albert is hoping to model after made it just a little bigger than the rest.
“He’s doing a great job,” Elder said. “He’s going to get his team up to play us. He was short-handed, and they still beat us. I told our guys we didn’t deserve to win.”
The Warriors’ win also came after a disappointing 95-93 overtime loss at Madonna on Wednesday, and they were playing Saturday for the second game without second-leading scorer Max Huber.
“Losing on Wednesday was really a big eye opener for us, and it just kind of grounded us a little bit and got us refocused,” Albert said.
The Eagles (19-3, 11-1), who defeated Tech 83-65 on Dec. 2, had the Warriors scrambling early, hitting seven 3-pointers to spark a 17-2 run for a 33-16 lead with 6:08 left in the first half.
The Warriors, though, closed the half with a 15-3 run to pull within five. They also switched to a zone that focused on making life tougher for Cornerstone’s inside power combination of Kyle Steigenga and Sam Vander Sluis.
“We just wanted to dirty it up,” Albert said. “I thought we did a really good job of not letting them get into a rhythm and disrupting a lot of their flow and making them play a little unorthodox.”
After its early first-half run, Cornerstone made just 10-of-38 shots and was 3 of 22 on 3-pointers the rest of the game.
Still, the Eagles were up 63-61 with 1:42 to play and still had that lead and the ball with 20 seconds remaining. But Tech junior Darren Groves came up with a steal at midcourt, and Phair tied it with a driving layup with 11 seconds remaining.
Vander Sluis, who led the Eagles with 20 points and 18 rebounds, fouled out on the next possession, and Groves missed the potential game-winner from the top of the key.