By: Lucas Packer
The IU South Bend men's basketball team went on the road tonight for a key conference matchup against St. Francis University and after a furious IU South Bend comeback and late game heroics by Alanzo Bass came out victorious by a final of 60-58. Coming into the game the Fighting Saints were 6-3 in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference, with the Titans sitting at 7-3. The two teams have been jockeying for third place in the conference all season and with the win IU South Bend grabs a firm hold on that spot and sits just a half game behind the conference's number two team, St. Xavier, who hold a 8-2 conference record.
It was an outstanding team win for the Titans, who trailed nearly the entire contest. After a first half that saw the Titans shoot just 39% from the field, they were down 30-23 to the Saints. Despite trailing, they had played hard and head coach Chad Tapp never lost confidence. "I told the guys in the locker room at halftime that if they kept playing hard we would win the game," he said. Fight hard they did, but it looked like it just wouldn't be enough, as St. Francis played hard as well and managed to open up their lead to double digits in the second half. With ten minutes to go the Titans trailed by 12, with just four minutes left, they trailed by 10. Then suddenly, it all came together for IU South Bend and they put together a run, closing the gap to just one with under a minute to go.
Cue the dramatic music, because it was then that senior leader Alanzo Bass took the game into his own hands, carrying IU South Bend to the win. With only 35 seconds left, Bass drove to the bucket, scoring the layup to put IU South Bend up 1. After the play, the Titans were called for a foul, resulting in free throws for SFU. Fighting Saints big man Mark Peters knocked down one of two free throws to tie the game. Then, it was Bass again, the game in his hands as he held the ball with just seconds to go. The clock ticked down under 5 seconds as he made his move, once again aggressively attacking the rim. The shot went up and rimmed out but Bass was fouled on the drive. Wiping the sweat from his brow and taking a deep breath, the senior thought back to all the times he had envisioned this very scenario, shooting alone out on the playground growing up in Indianapolis, and calmly knocked down both free throw attempts, giving the Titans a two point lead. The Saints threw up a shot at the buzzer but didn't connect and the Titans had earned themselves a great victory.
Alanzo Bass was unquestionably the player of the game in this one, as he scored 13 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and snared 4 steals to go with his late game highlights. He had a lot of help, as three other IU South Bend players scored in double figures. Steven Heatherly led the scoring with 14 points, Chris Beam put in 12 points, and Kyle Heatherly capped off the double figure scoring with 10 of his own. After shooting 47% in the second half the Titans finished shooting 44% for the game while holding the Saints to 40%. St. Francis was led by Billy Hubly with 11 points.
The win improves IU South Bend to 11-6 (8-3 CCAC) on the year and is their fifth win in the last six games. They are next in action on Saturday, January 5th as they return home for a matchup with Trinity International University at 2pm. The game will be broadcast LIVE at www.iusbtitans.com for those unable to attend. The day will also be celebrated as homecoming and alumni-athlete day, with an alumni game slated to take place at 9am. Fans are welcome to join the early festivities.