GAME NOTES: The quarterfinal round of the Summit League Tournament continues on Sunday night, as the fifth-seeded IUPU-Fort Wayne Mastodons take on the Oakland Golden Grizzlies at Sioux Falls Arena.
The winner will advance to Monday's semifinals to tangle with top-seeded South Dakota State.
IPFW appeared to be one of the Summit League's worst teams for most of the season, but it has gotten hot at the perfect time, winning five straight games to close out the campaign to climb to 15-16 overall and 7-9 in conference.
Oakland found the hot hand in late-January through mid-February with seven straight wins, but it is backing into this tournament with losses in two of its last three games, which both came, oddly enough, against IPFW. The Grizzlies still enjoyed a solid season, as they sit at 16-15 and finished the Summit League campaign at 10-6.
Although the Grizzlies still lead the all-time series, 16-5, IPFW had Oakland's number this season, winning both matchups, including the regular- season finale on the road, 74-72. The back-and-forth contest consisted of 15 ties and 13 lead changes, but IPFW had the final say when Frank Gaines drained the game-winning jumper with 1:12 left. Gaines finished with 20 points, just behind Luis Jacobo, who poured in 21 on 5-of-11 from 3-point range. Joe Edwards (11 points) and Mario Hines (nine rebounds) were solid in reserve roles in the winning effort. For Oakland, Drew Valentine paced five teammates in double figures with 15 points to go with eight rebounds. Corey Petros tallied 14 points and nine boards, Travis Bader had 12 points but on just 1- of-11 accuracy from 3-point range, while Dante Williams and Duke Mondy contributed 11 points apiece.
IPFW's offensive attack (66.6 ppg) ranks near the bottom of the league, although it is oftentimes saved by strong defensive play, as it ranks third in the league in giving up just 65.6 ppg. Gaines is the Summit's third-leading scorer with 19.5 ppg, and he is one of the most active foul shooters in the nation (171-of-231, .740). Jacobo brings 11.3 ppg to the table on 64-of-168 from beyond the arc (.381).
Oakland is led by the efforts of Bader, who ranks second in the league and fifth in the nation in scoring with 22.0 ppg, and although his overall field goal percentage hasn't been great (.395), his 131 3-pointers are the most in the country. Petros takes some of the pressure off of Bader by manning the paint with 12.6 ppg (on 56.5 percent from the field) and 8.2 rpg. Mondy pours in 12.1 ppg and leads the league in assists with 5.7 per game, and Valentine (10.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and Ryan Bass (9.1 ppg) round out the balanced attack. As a team, the Grizzlies have no problem scoring (73.7 ppg), but they actually give up more to their opponents (74.0 ppg).
While the Grizzlies have been the more impressive team this season, after losing to IPFW twice in the past three weeks, it's a good assumption that the Mastodons are in their heads. IPFW has a lot of confidence coming into this matchup as it is riding its hottest stretch of the season, and the squad seems to have the formula to take down Oakland.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: IUPU-Fort Wayne 73, Oakland 72
03/10 10:32:05 ET
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