By: Lucas Packer
Down 17 points in the second half? No problem, right? Well, for head coach Chad Tapp's Titans, it wasn't a problem today. That was the exact scenario IU South Bend found themselves in after some incredibly hot shooting by their opponents, the Tigers of Olivet Nazarene, but in the end the Titans elevated their defense and used some hot shooting of their own to snatch the improbable victory away from ONU, winning 65-60. It was definitely a tale of two halves for the Titans, one much, much better than the other.
The first half, unlike the final result, was a complete disaster. The Titans couldn't throw it in the ocean from the beach on offense, shooting just 35% from the field, and defensively they weren't faring much better as Olivet Nazarene exploded for multiple three-pointers and shot 52% from the field. Ben Worner alone had 17 points on 4/5 shooting from long-range for the Tigers as ONU went into the intermission feeling good, holding a 37-26 lead.
The second half actually started much the same, with ONU holding court, pushing the lead all the way to 43-26. At that point, the Titans decided to wake up and wake up they did. The defensive intensity was suddenly paramount for the Titans and slowly but surely IU South Bend clawed, scratched, and fought their way back into the game, finally capturing their first lead of the game at 51-50 with about five minutes left in the game. The lead didn't last long though, as the Tigers immediately took it back on the next possession. The Tigers then pushed the lead back to 60-54. At that point, some teams would get worried and pack it in. Not these Titans, however. Instead, IU South Bend got huge defensive stops, including several blocks by big man Joe Godfread, who played exceptionally well on the defensive end of the floor today. They also got some huge shots from outside, with Mark White, Kyle Heatherly, and Chris Beam all taking turns draining bombs from behind the arc. All of that changed the momentum and the outcome of the game, as IU South Bend sank their free-throws down the stretch to close the game out and secure the victory.
The Titans were led in the victory by Chris Beam with 17 points, Kyle Heatherly with 15 points and 5 rebounds in his first real action of the year, and Joe Godfread, who finished with 4 points to go with his 7 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. As a team, the Titans finished at 42% from the field after shooting 48% in the second half. Most importantly, IU South Bend committed only 3 turnovers in the entire game, including zero in the second half. The Tigers were led by Ben Worner with 19 points, but as stated earlier 17 of those came in the first half. ONU was held to just 29% from the field in the second half, including 0/8 from deep, and finished the game at 39% from the field.
This was a good, hard-fought, quality win for the Titans, and perhaps a bit of a statement game, as they showed they will not give up regardless of the hole they find themselves in. It is that type of tenacity that will serve IU South Bend well as they continue to face the rigors of the upcoming CCAC schedule. The win improves the Titans to 5-1 (3-1 CCAC) on the year, which happens to be the best start in school history for men's basketball. They are next in action on Tuesday, November 20 as they travel to Roosevelt University to face the Lakers.