FORT WAYNE, INDIANA — It was the biggest win in Fort Wayne history.
No. 3 IU headed on the road for the first time all season and became victim of a massive upset.
The Hoosiers fell in overtime to the Mastodons, 71-68, as the IU offense faltered in the extra period.
It wasn’t just an upset – the Mastodons controlled the game the majority of the way, as the Hoosiers only led for 1:11 total.
“Either way, when the game got started I thought we were going to learn a very valuable lesson one way or the other and unfortunately we learned it,” IU Coach Tom Crean said. “I hope we learned it. We didn’t get the result we wanted by any stretch, but that team played with tremendous will.”
Fort Wayne showed desire from the start.
After a made 3-pointer from junior center Thomas Bryant to open the game, IU struggled on both ends. The Mastodons started the game on a 13-3 run and dominated early.
Notably, IU’s offense struggled from three. After Bryant’s three, IU went ice cold, missing its next 12 of 14 from three in the first half.
At no point did IU get in a rhythm offensively and finished the game shooting 40.3 percent from the field.
Crean emphasizes post touches on offense, but they weren’t up to his standards Tuesday.
“Frankly as much as we posted, there were times that we missed it, missed the post,” Crean said. “And there were times where we didn’t continue to seal or come across the other side. We just didn’t do a good enough job of that. The ball didn’t move as crisply and as accurately from side to side or ball reversal-wise as much as it needed to.”
Even with IU’s struggles to shoot in the first half, after a late run, the Hoosiers only went into the half down two. Following halftime, it looked like IU was going to finally take control of the game when the Hoosiers went up 43-42 on a Bryant and-one layup.
In the ensuing stretch of play, Fort Wayne went on another run and took its largest lead of the game. Down 12, the Hoosiers teetered on the brink before they switched up their defense.
The two-three zone nearly helped the Hoosiers salvage the game. Once IU went to it, Fort Wayne struggled to score and only had four points the last 9:49 of the second half.
“Changing the defense,” Crean said. “We needed to get the penetration stopped. They were moving the ball quicker than we were rotating.”
However, even when IU closed the gap, its offense continued to struggle with turnovers. The Hoosiers had 15 turnovers, which cost them the opportunity of winning the game in regulation and overtime.
When IU did play well offensively, it flowed from its defense.
“We got back to playing like we do,” junior guard James Blackmon Jr. said. “We got up and down. We started getting stops. We did a good job of that in spurts. We can’t play in spurts.”
In overtime, those spurts didn’t ever appear as the only shot IU made was a lone 3-pointer by junior guard Robert Johnson.
Crean talked about seeing the Achilles’ heels pop up against Fort Wayne and those cost IU mightily. He knows they need to fix those as IU continues non-conference play.
“Just as I’m not going to get caught up in whatever comes our way now,” Crean said. “It’s the whole bottom line is how much better can you get, how much are you willing to improve and work.”
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