IUP BASKETBALL: Crimson Hawks run past Shaw
The IUP coaching staff won’t have to dig deep into the video of Saturday’s basketball game to find some perfect examples of execution to show the team.
IUP opened the game with a 15-0 run and then made eight straight shots in the second half to stretch the lead back to double digits in a 74-57 victory over Shaw (N.C.) in the IRMC Classic at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.
The Crimson Hawks (5-0) play the University of the Sciences (4-2) at 3 p.m. today.
“When there are big runs it usually means you’re stringing together a bunch of 3s and making good shots,” said IUP coach Joe Lombardi. “It’s a game of runs, and sometimes it’s you, and sometimes it’s the other team. You have to have longer ones when you get them, and you have to have them more often. And you have to shorten them when it happens to you.”
IUP, ranked 10th in NCAA Division II, played in a comfort zone throughout the first half, leading 15-0 and 30-13 before Shaw cut the margin to nine points, 34-25, at halftime.
After IUP restored the lead to double figures early in the second half, Shaw launched a 9-0 burst to slice the deficit to three, 42-39, with 14 minutes remaining. The Crimson Hawks stretched it back to eight on Devante Chance’s 3-pointer off an assist from Mathis Keita and his layup after Keita’s steal and assist.
Shaw scored to set the margin at six at the 11:13 mark, and then IUP put together a nearly perfect offensive stretch. The Hawks scored on eight of nine possessions, perfection marred only by one turnover, and extended the lead to 15 points at 68-53 with 4:56 remaining.
IUP tore through Shaw’s mix of matchup zone and man-to-man defense, drilling five 3-pointers and converting three layups. Jesse Bosnik, Kieta (2), Chance and Manny Yarde hit 3s, and Bosnik, Marcel Souberbielle and Devon Cottrell scored after IUP punctured the interior of the defense. There were assists on all eight field goals, with Souberbielle getting three, Chance two, Cottrell two and Bosnik one.
“Our guys have high basketball IQs,” Lombardi said. “Shaw mixed some zone and man and we reacted well. We got the ball to the middle of the floor. We tell them there’s gold in the middle. Anytime the ball gets in there people tend to collapse and you can throw it back out, and those are going to be the best shots you get, and we had good interior passing. … We had a great run of possessions, and it seemed we had great passes on every one of them.”
Defensive rebounding helped fuel the surge. IUP surrendered 10 offensive rebounds in the first half and didn’t allow another until the end of the eight-shot burst.
“We hadn’t given up that many offensive rebounds all year,” Lombardi said. “We definitely got exposed on that. … We just have to gang rebound, with guys getting five, six and seven. … In the second half we did a better job containing dribble penetration, and when they did shoot and miss we were in better position to block out and come down with the rebound.”
Souberbielle led IUP with a game-high 20 points, and Chance scored 16 and handed out a game-high seven assists. Jeremy Jeffers, a Division I transfer from Drake (Iowa), scored a career-high 14 points, and Keita chipped in 12. Jeffers, Cottrell and Keita each grabbed seven rebounds.
“We put in a couple new offenses to prepare for the zone to get the ball in the middle and get open shots, and it worked,” Chance said. “We had good preparation and execution when we needed it.”
Jeffers, a 6-foot-6 junior forward, had his best game in his short career at IUP. He made 4 of 5 shots, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range. He is averaging 8.8 points and 6.4 rebounds.
“I just want to keep playing hard,” Jeffers said. “I just want to do the little fundamental things to keep us going and stick tighter as a team and get stops and hopefully get it going on the offensive end. It’s taken some time, but I think it’s all coming together.”
IUP responded for a second straight game after a double-digit lead was sliced in the second half. Clarion cut a 15-point deficit to five last Saturday, and the Hawks went on to win by 21 points, 68-47.
“This was a much more athletic team than Clarion,” Souberbielle said, “but we approach every team the same way. We knew they were a good team even though they came up here with a 1-3 record. We knew the type of players and the athleticism they have, so it’s a good win.”
“The guys came together,” Lombardi said. “I’m real happy with the way they keep responding. There’s no sense of panic. They trust each other, and you build trust through consistency. Winning breeds winning, and the new guys know the veteran guys around them have won a lot of games, so they’re confident.”
Sciences won the first game of the tournament, coming back from a 12-point deficit in the second half to beat Pitt Johnstown, 74-68. Garret Kerr, a 6-4 junior forward, scored a game-high 26 points. Tyrone Mann-Barnes scored 18 off the bench, and Patrick Connaghan had 14. T-John Casiello dished out seven assists and did not commit a turnover.
“It’s going to be a grinder game,” Lombardi said. “They have a high academic program, and it’s very challenging. My hat’s off to them to be as well-schooled as they are and be good players. They don’t look the part. They won’t have a lot of dunks, but they know how to play the game. They share the ball, play well together, and I think UPJ underestimated them a little bit once they got out to a 12-point lead. They did a nice job hanging in there and closing out the game.”