IUP BASKETBALL: No. 2 Spartans just too much for Crimson Hawks
EAST LANSING, Mich. — In its second and final exhibition game of the preseason, IUP lost at Division I Michigan State, the second-ranked team in the country, 84-45, on Monday.
Michigan State is the latest in a long line of Division I opponents IUP has played in exhibition games in eight seasons under coach Joe Lombardi. The list includes Pitt, Maryland, Syracuse, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Florida State. IUP opened the preseason Saturday with an 87-57 loss at La Salle.
“Michigan State is by far the best exhibition team we’ve played,” Lombardi said. “They’re better than Syracuse, Pitt, Maryland, anything we’ve ever played. They’re bigger, stronger, run faster, jump higher, shoot it better. Other than that our guys made a good effort and did some things well, but we have a long way to go with this year’s rebuilding process.”
IUP enters the season with two starters and two other players from last year’s regular rotation from a 26-6 team that won its third Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship in the last four seasons. There are seven new players in the program.
“I actually thought we played better than the last time out,” Lombardi said. “We learned from the La Salle game. We executed better. Michigan State did a lot of switching on defense, and that disrupted us. They were long enough — 6-9, 6-6, 6-7 — long enough and quick enough not to allow us to have the ability to take advantage of anything. Our guys played well in stretches, but we were just overmatched.”
Marcel Souberbielle, a senior forward, led IUP with 12 points and six rebounds. He also led IUP against La Salle with 17 points and eight rebounds. Devante Chance, a junior point guard, finished with eight points. He had 14 points, five assists and no turnovers against La Salle.
IUP hung with the Spartans early, with a jumper by Souberbielle making the score 13-10 with 12:43 to go in the first half. It was 22-14 early three minutes later when Michigan State went on an 11-2 run to take a 17-point lead. The Spartans then finished the half by scoring 12 of the last 18 as the Crimson Hawks went into halftime trailing 47-26.
The Spartans scored the first six points of the second half and went on to lead by as many as 40 points.
“We did some good things to hang our hat on, and the experience will be well worth it,” Lombardi said. “It’s not often you get to play, in my mind, the best team in the country in front of 15,000 fans. There were stretches our guys represented IUP very well on the court, but we just couldn’t sustain it.
IUP shot 36.4 percent from the floor. Michigan State shot 46.9 percent, including a 13-for-31 effort from 3-point range. The Spartans led the rebounding 48-30.
“I measure it by how our kids kept their poise,” Lombardi said. “We only had 12 turnovers, which is a good number for this time of year playing away against a team of that caliber. They only outrebounded us by three in the first half. But we just don’t have enough bodies or enough size and speed to compete with a team like that for 40 minutes.”
IUP opens the season Nov. 13 at West Virginia Wesleyan. The home opener is Nov. 16 against Notre Dame (Ohio) College.