FORT WAYNE – It was a mid-range jumper to the right of the lane; a shot Frank Gaines had made a hundred times in previous games and a thousand times, perhaps, in practice. But this one was special. This one provided his 1,766th point, which enabled him to become the all-time leading scorer in IPFW mens basketball history.
He scored seven more points to finish with 26 in an 88-75 hang-on-for-dear-life victory over Bowling Green. Nevertheless, it was a fitting Memorial Coliseum finale to Gaines and his fellow senior, Mario Hines, since the remaining IPFW games will be on the road. Next Saturday, the Mastodons play at Oakland, and March 9 the Summit League tournament begins in Sioux Falls, S.D.
At halftime, both the victory and the record appeared within sight.
IPFW (14-16) went ballistic from the three-point line, hitting 10 of 14 in the first half to go up 43-26 at the break, with Gaines leading the way with 12 points.
I thought we shot the heck out of it in the first half and kind of hung on for dear life down the stretch, IPFW coach Tony Jasick said.
When Gaines hit his record-breaking shot, it gave the Mastodons a 54-32 lead with 15:20 still left.
While the record was in hand, the game wasnt, as Bowling Green (11-16) began to crawl its way back, getting to within nine points, 72-63, with 4:22 remaining.
It definitely felt like we were very casual the last five or six minutes of the game, Jasick said.
The dear life and the win were held onto, and Gaines took away the record of 1,765 points that was held by Sean Gibson for 20 years.
Its great, Gibson said after posing for photos with Gaines.
I talked to my kids this week, as my kids have gotten excited about coming up here for this. Records are meant to be broken. Its great to see someone like Frank break a record.
The new record is 1,773 and counting. But the hard part is over for the senior from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
I tried not to think about it, but every person I saw always reminded me (of the record), Gaines said. I tried to focus on winning.
But he admitted he could sense the record dangling in front of him.
I came into the game thinking I would get it, he said. At halftime I felt I was that much closer. If it wasnt for my teammates, I never would have got it.
Three of his teammates all added 12 points – Hines, Luis Jacobo and Joe Reed.