BLOOMINGTON – The experience of playing the Indiana Hoosiers in Assembly Hall was everything Mo Evans thought it would be.
"It was a fun environment," IPFW’s junior point guard said. "It most definitely was not a home game. You could see there were 11,000 who came to cheer the Hoosiers."
The 90-65 blowout loss wasn’t the result Evans and the Mastodons desired, but the general consensus was that playing in such a venue could harden the team for this year’s remaining road schedule.
"Probably the next biggest one we play in is going to be the conference tournament," Evans said. "This gives us that edge when we play in smaller gyms against the smaller schools. We’ll be ready."
Power forward Joe Reed, who had five points and six rebounds, agreed with Evans that facing Indiana – a first in program history – could give the team a boost starting with the next game, Saturday at home against Austin Peay.
"It will give us a little edge against Austin Peay, coming back from a seven-game road stretch," Reed said. "Playing with a crowd like (the one at Assembly Hall) that’s pretty much all against us will be like it is in South Dakota (for the Summit League Championships).
"It was good for a lot of these new guys to be able to see that environment early."
Hoosiers associate head coach Tim Buckley said the Mastodons (7-4) continue to rise in the Summit League.
"It’s been really interesting to see the program grow because I was at Ball State when they first got it going in Division I," Buckley said. "Doug Noll did a really good job getting it off the ground.
"Then Dane Fife and obviously Tony Jasick and now Jon Coffman. They’ve had really good leadership there and have continued to develop good players and recruit good players. Their program continues to get better and better, and it’s why they’re off to one of their best starts."
Fort Wayne native James Blackmon Jr. – who produced only four points Wednesday – still enjoyed facing the Mastodons.
"I feel like they’re excited to get the chance to play here," Blackmon said. "I’ve played open gym with them a couple times, know a couple of their players, so I’m going to be excited next year, as well as this year, to get a chance to play against Fort Wayne."