FORT WAYNE – This time there would be no held breaths. Only a collective gasp.
Three nights after it came down to one last possession for the third time in this season, the IPFW men’s basketball team enjoyed 40 minutes of exhale Wednesday night in the Gates Center, rolling to a 29-point halftime lead that morphed into a 106-72 rout of NAIA foe Purdue-Calumet.
Five players scored in double figures, led by Mo Evans with 22 and Michael Kibiloski with 15. All 14 players saw the floor and 11 scored, as the Mastodons (4-2) made a dozen 3-pointers, shot 53.4 percent and outrebounded Calumet 43-27.
And the collective gasp?
That was provided by 6-foot-4 guard Joe Edwards, who put his signature on the evening at the 4:45 mark of the first half when he achieved liftoff on the baseline, elevated over a defender and flushed a gravity-defying one-handed dunk.
Boom. Thanks for playing.
“There’s a different nervousness I guess about these games, depending on how your team comes out,” IPFW coach Tony Jasick said later. “Are you gonna come out and play against the game, are you gonna see that maybe on paper you have a quote-unquote inferior opponent?
“I thought our guys for the most part really came out and played the game the right way.”
And because they did, the suspense on this night lasted all of about 58 seconds.
That’s how long it took Purdue-Calumet’s Kaspars Brencans to ring in a 3-pointer to open things, and for Kibiloski to answer with a bucket-and-one. A layup by Bland followed, and then a 3-pointer from Isaiah McCray and Edwards, and the Mastodons were laying down rubber.
The twin 3-pointers fueled a 15-4 run that sent the Mastodons in front 15-7 at the 14:36 mark of the first half, as Calumet (5-2) missed nine of its first 11 shots. That was followed by a 12-2 run that pushed the lead to 35-13 with 7:57 to play in the half.
Calumet never got closer than 20 thereafter, and the Mastodons hit the century mark on a Herbert Graham 3-pointer with 5:09 to play.
Brencans scored 24 for the Peregrines to lead all scorers; the Mastodons responded with 62 points off their bench, 25 points off turnovers and 37 second-chance points.
“A game like this after we got back from Texas kind of can be a little bit of a trap game, where we were still mentally drained from that road trip,” Kibiloski said. “So I thought it was important to get out early and … make sure all of us were, I don’t know, up to speed I guess you’d say.”