By: BOBBY COZZIE
The Titan men’s and women’s basketball teams defeated their rival IU Northwest Red Hawks in back-to-back games Wednesday in the Student Activities Center.
Both Titan teams overcame slow, sloppy starts en route to victory.
In game one, the women’s team showed some sloppy play to start, getting down late in the shot clock and allowing too many easy points for the Red Hawks. The Titans shot just 30 percent from the floor in the first half and found themselves down 38-30 at the break.
“We just couldn’t get going [in the first half],” said head women’s coach Steve Bruce.
But the team was able to get going in the second half with the whole team picking up the intensity, shooting 64 percent from the floor in the second half.
“Our defense got better,” said Bruce. “That led to us feeling better about ourselves on offense, and we made a couple shots. Once we got some momentum going, we got it going.”
The Titans were clutch down the stretch with free throws, hitting 15-16 for the game. They ended with 44 percent shooting from the floor. Courtney Smith, Paige Avery and Loren Vukovits all scored in double figures to lead the Titans to a 72-60 win.
The second game, featuring the men’s team, had a similar start to the first game.
The Titans started sloppy and slow yet again. The Titans trailed the majority of the first half, but hot outside shooting and opportunistic plays at the rim allowed them to take a late first half lead and enter the break up 44-41.
“We started making shots,” said men’s head coach Scott Cooper. “I thought we had some pretty good looks in the first half that we missed. Anytime you get good shots, good things are typically going to happen.”
The Titans shot just 37 percent from the floor for the game, but 40 percent from the three-point line. They made only 20 free throws on 36 attempts, but down the stretch, when it was needed, they made the plays.
“Beacher Ward hit a big one late in the second half that put us up by about seven,” said Cooper. “T.J. Benner got a pretty good one in there, and we made some free throws down the stretch finally.”
Javonte Young, Taylor Brooks and T.J. Benner all scored in double figures, leading The Titans in scoring, but everyone contributed along the way to the 81-74 victory.
“It was a total team effort. A lot of guys stepped up,” said Cooper.