FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The IPFW used a steady dose of defense and a strong presence on the offensive glass to top the Western Illinois Leathernecks 77-64. With the win, the Mastodons climbed into the top spot in the Summit League standings at 6-1 in league play.
The win – which improved IPFW to 18-6 on the year – also ties the school record for NCAA Division I victories, tying the 2010-11 squad which finished the year with an 18-12 overall record.
Luis Jacobo scored a game-high 23 points, hitting 6-of-10 from long range, while Steve Forbes scored 18 and Joe Reed 10. Forbes pulled down a team-best six rebounds, while Mo Evans dished out a career-high five assists.
The Mastodons held the Leathernecks without a field goal for the final 5:13 of the second half, turning a one-point lead into nine at the halftime break, while pulling down 12 offensive rebounds – eight of those in the second half.
Western Illinois jumped on the scoreboard first 30 seconds into the game, before the Mastodons scored the next seven points and never trailed again.With IPFW leading by eight at 17-9, the Leathernecks fought back, using a 16-8 run to tie the score at 25.
WIU trailed by one after an Adam Link three-point play with 5:13 left in the first half, but would not hit another field goal in the first half, as the Mastodons pushed ahead to a nine-point lead with a half-ending 12-4 run.
IPFW’s 41 points in the first half are the second-most points that the Leathernecks have given up in the opening 20 minutes this season, and is one more point than the Mastodons scored over the entire 40 minutes in the last meeting between the teams (a 43-40 Western Illinois win).
A three-pointer by Jacobo a minute into the second half put IPFW ahead by 11 at 44-33 before the Leathernecks started their slow climb back. A 6-0 WIU run closed the gap to four, as the visitors climbed back to within as few as two points on three separate occasions in the second half.
After a Garret Covington three-pointer closed the WIU deficit to two with 6:42 to play in the game, IPFW opened an 8-1 run to take the margin to nine, capped by a three-pointer from Joe Edwards. The lead reached its high-water mark at 13 when Forbes slammed home a dunk with 17 seconds left in the game to close the door on the 13-point, 77-64 Mastodon victory.
IPFW out-rebounded Western Illinois 32-to-19 in the game, including a 12-to-3 margin on the offensive glass. The 13 rebound margin between the teams is the largest for IPFW this season since it out-rebounded SIU Edwardsville by the same amount on December 14.
Covington scored a team-best 18 points for Western Illinois, while Adam Link scored 13 and pulled down five rebounds.
The Mastodons return to action in a two-game road trip to South Dakota State (February 6) and North Dakota State (February 8).