By: Lucas Packer
The IU South Bend men's basketball team continued their strong play tonight with a home victory against the Trolls of Trinity Christian College by a final of 68-58. Although TCC never went away the Titans never trailed in this game and watching it you never got the feeling that they were threatened, either. It was a dominating team win from start to finish, and has been the case quite a bit lately, there were multiple contributors, too. With the win, IU South Bend matches last year's win total with six games (plus playoffs) still remaining on the schedule, evidence of how well this team is playing.
The first half was dominated by IU South Bend in all categories except one: three-point shooting. The Titans led at the break 29-24 but could never dispatch the Trolls due to their hot shooting. 18 of TCC's 24 first half points came from behind the arc, as the Trolls seemed to hit a three every time it looked like IU South Bend might pull away. The Titans shot 50% from the field for the half, compared to 42% for the visitors, and the rebounding battle went the home team's way 11-10.
The second half was much the same, except the Trolls finally cooled off and the Titans took their good shooting from the first half and made it great. IU South Bend knocked down an on-fire 61% of their shots in the second, all while employing a stifling defense that forced Trinity Christian into just 36% for the half. The Titans also picked it up on the boards, outworking the visitors to the tune of a 20-14 second half rebounding edge.
IU South Bend was paced by Austin Fox, who had his best game yet as a Titan. The sophomore forward went into beast-mode against the Trolls, finishing with 26 points on 10/14 shooting (including two dunks) to go with 6 rebounds and 2 steals. Chris Beam was also a stud in this one, as he amassed 19 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Alanzo Bass scored 9 points and had three steals off the bench for IU South Bend and Steven Heatherly offset a rare cold-shooting night by leading the team in rebounds with 7. As a team the Titans shot 56% from the field for the game while holding the Trolls to just 38%. They also won the final rebounding battle by a tally of 31-24. Trinity Christian got 21 points from BJ Wortham and 11 from Jake VanDenBerg in the loss.
The victory improves IU South Bend to 16-8 on the year, including a very impressive 13-5 conference mark, good for third place in the CCAC. The Titans currently hold a 1.5 game lead on the fourth place Saints of St. Francis University. They are next in action on January 26th as they travel to Milwaukee to face off against the #5 team in the country, Cardinal Stritch University, who also happens to be sitting atop the CCAC with a 17-1 conference mark. The game is slated for a 7pm tip-off.
As a side-note, with the win head coach Chad Tapp improves his career winning percentage to .500 with a 43-43 mark at the helm of the IU South Bend program. In his first year the Titans won 11 games, in his second they won 16, and now in his third he has this IU South Bend team playing extremely well, winning 16 already with the potential for more.