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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - IPFW got by perennial nemesis South Dakota State 64-60 in the semifinal round of the Summit League Men's Basketball Tournament in front of 6,769 fans at the Sioux Falls Arena Monday.
Here are five keys to how the Mastodons advanced to their first tournament championship game in program history.
IPFW freshman guard Mo Evans hadn't made more than four 3-pointers in a game against NCAA Division I competition all season. But somehow against the best 3-point defending team in the Summit League, he buries 6 of his 7 attempts en route to a team-best 18 points. It not only set a new personal mark for Evans, but a Summit League Tournament mark for accuracy.
“I was just going out there and trying my best to try and win a game and get to our first conference championship,” Evans said.
He did admit that after hitting his third consecutive long shot to open the game he started realize that he was in the midst of something special.
IPFW redshirt junior center Steve Forbes remained out of foul trouble and was able to play 30 minutes against the Jackrabbits. His being on the floor allowed the Mastodons to hang with the Jackrabbits on the glass. He finished with 10 points and eight boards, while his presence also aided forward Joe Reed in being able to scoop up six rebounds of his own.
IPFW stole the ball 14 times from South Dakota State, but the majority were swipes from defenders off of the ball. Continually, Jackrabbit drivers were picked off by Mastodons jumping gaps and getting their hands on the ball and deflecting it away, which often led to transition buckets. The Mastodons dominated the Jackrabbits in points off of turnovers 22-12.
“We did get our hands on a lot of loose balls,” IPFW coach Tony Jasick said. “That created some turnovers and we were able to get some things in transition.”
South Dakota State forward Jordan Dykstra entered the game with averages of 16 points and nearly eight boards per game, but the combination of Joe Reed, Michael Kibiloski and Steve Forbes limited the 6-foot-8 senior to just nine points and five rebounds.
“One of our major focuses for the game was trying to get South Dakota State to play around the perimeter,” Jasick explained. “Where (Dykstra) is really good, is playing off of others. And (South Dakota State) is really good at finding him. The key to defending that is keeping your guy in front of you and not creating any help and recover situations. I thought our guys did a really good job of that tonight.”
IPFW handled the atmosphere of playing in front of a Summit League Tournament record crowd of 6,769 fans, virtually all cheering for the Jackrabbits. The Mastodons answered South Dakota State's second half rally with a run of their own and Jasick's team only turned the ball over 11 times.