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Mastodons pay price for ‘casual’ play

Of course the game would hinge on a second chance. It was the demon that haunted IPFW all night, as it was the demon that killed it in the bitter end.

North Dakota State, which began this week among the tri-leaders in the Summit League but had dropped its last three road games, took advantage of what IPFW coach Tony Jasick described as the Mastodons’ casual nature to defeat IPFW 58-54 Saturday at the Gates Center.

It was the third consecutive loss for IPFW (10-16, 3-9) and the fourth home loss in its last five games, whether at Gates or Memorial Coliseum.

This time, it was effort – or lack thereof – that steamed inside the suit coat of Jasick.

“We did not do a very good job in the effort and toughness statistical categories,” Jasick said. “We got dominated on the glass, which you can’t do that if you want to win games.”

Thanks to North Dakota State (19-6, 10-3) hauling down 13 offensive rebounds to IPFW’s six, the Bison outscored IPFW 20-3 in second chance points.

Despite the disparity, the Mastodons were still in the hunt with 5.4 seconds remaining and trailing 57-54.

Any one of the two free throws from North Dakota State’s Brett VandenBergh would have all but sealed the win, but the freshman forward missed both.

Recognizing the second miss that fell short, VandenBergh rushed to the ball, which IPFW sophomore Jay Edwards finally gathered. In his haste, and under pressure, Edwards dribbled the ball on the sideline, which gave the ball back to North Dakota State.

Although Edwards was credited with the rebound, it was VandenBergh’s awareness amid four other IPFW players standing in the free-throw lane that forced the turnover.

“Casual,” Jasick said of his team’s effort. “Casual. We just took for granted that they didn’t have anybody there. We don’t rebound the ball. VandenBergh just wanted to win more, bottom line.”

It was the three-point line that helped the Mastodons jump out to a 20-13 lead early, but five IPFW turnovers in the final five minutes enabled North Dakota State to take a 26-25 halftime lead.

And so it would stay close throughout the second half, as Luis Jacobo dropped a jumper from the left wing with 29.9 seconds left to bring IPFW within 55-54. He also missed a quick shot inside 20 seconds.

“We did have some casualty,” said Jacobo, whose 14 points finished behind Frank Gaines’ 16 for the Mastodons.

“We can’t be casual during the game. We always have to have a high motor, and coach is always preaching that to us. It’s not his fault. It’s really on us. You can’t teach casualty; it’s all about effort.”

He said he meant to say “casual” and not “casualty.”

“You get what I’m saying.”

Casual or casualty.

Saturday, it was one in the same.