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The Journal Gazette

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette IPFW's Jordon King drives past Denver's defense for an easy layup during the first half of Saturday's Summit League game at Memorial Coliseum.

Sunday, February 04, 2018 1:00 am

IPFW 91 Denver 63

Mastodons' defense crowds out Denver

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

There was plenty to be impressed with in IPFW's 91-63 victory Saturday over Denver in front of an announced crowd of 2,010 at Memorial Coliseum.

Bryson Scott totaling 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting, for instance, as he relentlessly went to the basket. Or John Konchar muscling his way to 18 points and a team-high eight rebounds as the Mastodons (16-10, 5-4 Summit League) improved to 8-2 all-time against the Pioneers. And there was Kason Harrell, who made 4-of-8 attempts from 3-point range, keying the early 11-0 run and finishing with 14 points.

But none of it compares with what the Mastodons did defensively, getting all 12 of the game's steals. They forced 20 turnovers, 12 more than the Pioneers did. And when it came to points scored off turnovers, the advantage was 31-9 in favor of IPFW.

“Coming into the game, we really had to turn it up defensively,” Harrell said. “We did a good job on (Joe) Rosga and did a good job on (Daniel) Amigo, forced them to take tough shots in crowds or put them in crowds so they would make those tough passes and (our guys) would come in and take them.”

Amigo, who was averaging 15.1 points and 6.9 rebounds for the Pioneers (10-13, 4-5), was forced into foul trouble and had only four points and four rebounds over 16 minutes. Rosga had 10 points, 5.6 below his average.

Even at the rare moments when Denver mustered some momentum, it was squashed by the disparity in 3-point shooting; the Mastodons made 14 of 30 and the Pioneers 5 of 17.

“(The Pioneers) were shooting 42 percent (from 3-point range) before (Saturday) and 60 percent over the last three games, so they were an elite 3-point shooting team,” IPFW coach Jon Coffman said. “... We put them in crowds. We had five guys on half of the floor and we turned them over with that. They weren't able to get great ball movement.”

Coffman is ecstatic to see Harrell's shot selection improving.

“He's taking better shots right now,” Coffman said. “Not that he was ever a bad shot taker, but early in the season he was adjusting to his role and we need him to score. ... He sometimes was a little too aggressive early with the tough shots and we've talked through the progress as we've gone through the season.”

The Mastodons' halftime lead was 42-29 – they had an 8-0 advantage in steals – and a Scott 3 kicked off the second half.

A Konchar block of an Abiola Akintola shot in the paint set up Scott for a hook at the other end and a 51-33 lead with 16:08 remaining, and the game was never again in doubt.

jcohn@jg.net