By: Lucas Packer
The IU South Bend men's basketball team went on the road last night for a conference matchup against Olivet Nazarene University and came up just short, losing 51-50 on an ONU free throw with just 1.5 seconds on the game clock. The loss is just the second loss in the last seven games for IU South Bend, who have been playing very good basketball for the last month (7-3 in that span).
The first half was a fight from beginning to end, with each team matching the other shot-for-shot and stop-for-stop. In fact, the first half stats were nearly identical. The Titans shot 38.1% from the field while the Tigers shot 38.5% as IU South Bend went into the intermission up one, 25-24. The second was more of the same as each team continued to battle. ONU tried to pull away on several occasion, but each time it seemed they would open up the lead the Titans would make a quick run to stick around. With just over two minutes to go, IU South Bend was down five, but then back-to-back buckets by senior leader Steven Heatherly tied the game back up at 50. After a strong defensive trap by the Titans on the ensuing Tiger possession forced a timeout by the home squad, it all came down to one play. With the ball out of bounds underneath their own basket with under two seconds to go, Olivet Nazarene called an inbounds play for freshman Aaron Larson, who caught the pass near the left block moving towards the basket. His shot appeared to be blocked but a foul was called on IU South Bend, sending Larson to the line for the game-winning opportunity. Head coach Chad Tapp called a timeout before Larson shot his first free-throw in an attempt to ice the frosh and it worked as the first attempt clanged off the back iron. Then, Coach Tapp called another timeout, hoping to again ice the shooter. This time, however, the free throw from Larson found the bottom of the net, giving the Tigers a one-point lead and ultimately the win, as IU South Bend's last-ditch attempt came up empty.
The Titans were led by the aforementioned Steven Heatherly, who continued his strong play of late with 20 points on 7/13 shooting, including 4/7 from long-range. Austin Fox also had a good game with 9 points and 10 rebounds but had an off-shooting night, finishing 3/13 from the field. The Tigers were led by Aaron Larson with 12 points, including the decisive free throw at the end. As a team, IU South Bend shot 40% from the field compared to 37% for ONU. As was the case in the first half, all of the final stats were nearly even, as the Tigers won the rebounding battle 35-34 and both teams committed 16 turnovers.
The loss drops IU South Bend to 14-8 on the year, including 11-5 in conference play, good enough to maintain a two game lead over St. Francis University for third place in the CCAC. The Titans are next in action on Saturday, January 19 as they face off at home against Roosevelt University at 2pm. For those unable to attend the game will be broadcast LIVE at www.iusbtitans.com.