By: Lucas Packer
The IU South Bend men's basketball team continued their strong play tonight with a resounding victory over the visiting Eagles of Judson University by a final tally of 70-42. It was a slow start for the Titans, who led 28-22 at the half after shooting 40% from the field against 50% from Judson. However, the second half saw the Titans explode offensively, scoring 42 points on 61% shooting while holding the Eagles to just 20 points on 36% shooting. In fact, Judson had scored only three points nearly halfway through the second stanza as the home squad pulled away. By game's end, IU South Bend had dominated in nearly every category, outshooting Judson 51% to 43%, outrebounding them 28-24, and perhaps most impressive, the Titans committed only 6 turnovers while forcing the visitors into 16. It was a great win for a streaking IU South Bend team, who now hold the all-time record for wins in a single season and have the opportunity for more with three regular season games and the conference playoffs remaining.
The Titans were led by Austin Fox, who played an absolutely incredible game, finishing with 18 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals in the win. Steven Heatherly continued his hot shooting, knocking down five three-pointers en route to 17 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Chris Beam closed out the double figure scoring with 10 points to go with 3 assists. Mark White also played a solid game, as he has since sliding into the starting point guard role, finishing with 7 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and zero turnovers. The Eagles were led by Anthony Ahlers with 11 points and 8 rebounds. Ahlers was the only double figure scorer for Judson.
The win improves IU South Bend to 18-9 overall on the year, including 15-6 in conference play, good enough to have a firm grip on third place in the CCAC, two games ahead of St. Francis University, who fell at home to #9 St. Xavier University tonight. With just three regular season games remaining the Titans are in position to possibly become the first 20-win team in program history and they are at least knocking on the door of the national Top 25 rankings, which would also be a program first if they moved up. With a number of Top 25 teams losing this week (including four teams from the Crossroads League), the timing may never have been better for this IU South Bend squad.
The argument for IU South Bend making the Top 25 is quite intriguing. At 18-9, their record is comparable to many teams already in the rankings and of those nine losses, six have come against nationally ranked teams, including Cardinal Stritch twice (currently ranked #3), St. Xavier (currently #9-and the Titans split the season series by beating St. X here in the SAC), Andrews University (currently ranked #3 in the USCAA-and IU South Bend won a game against them also, splitting the series), Bethel College (currently ranked #14) and Columbia College (currently #1 and undefeated in Division I of the NAIA). The other three losses on the Titans resume were all avenged. IU South Bend split the season series with Olivet Nazarene, a traditional CCAC power, as both teams won on their home floor. Holy Cross beat the Titans by just one point (57-58) early in the year. Their next meeting was all Titans as they blew Holy Cross out 75-53. The only other team with a win against IU South Bend is Roosevelt University, who pulled off a 60-50 victory on their home floor, also early in the season. Their next meeting? A 67-47 Titan victory that wasn't even as close as the score would indicate. There is a compelling argument for this IU South Bend team as they have steadily improved all year and look to be melding at just the right time as conference and (possibly) national tournament time is just around the corner.
They are next in action on February 9th as they travel to face off against Purdue Calumet at 4pm. The game after that will be on February 13th in the SAC against St. Francis University at 7:30pm. The night will be celebrated as Senior Night as the Titans honor seniors Steven Heatherly, Kyle Heatherly, and Alanzo Bass.