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Titans hold off Cardinals in thrilling season opener

By: Austin Parks

Staff Writer

The IU South Bend men’s basketball team took on the Concordia University Cardinals at the Student Activities Center in their season opener. The IU South Bend Titans are coming off a disappointing last season going 12-18, with 16 of those losses coming from conference play. The Titans are debuting nine new players, hoping to revitalize their program.

“Concordia had a veteran team with four returning starters from the year before that really know how to play. Any time you run into a group with that much experience this early in the season, especially when we have a young, inexperienced team, you are going to be happy to get a win,” said Scott Cooper, IU South Bend men’s basketball coach.

The Cardinals team is in a similar situation to the Titans. Also going 12-18 last season, the Cardinals are trying to start off the new season with a win. After ending their 2017-2018 season with three losses in a row.

One big difference between the two teams is the Cardinals have much more experience then the Titans, with four returning starters from last year. While most of the Titans roster did not play for them last season.

The Titans started the season off with a shot from Miguel Mahan, going up 2-0. From there the Titans missed consecutive shots. The Cardinals capitalized off the misses going on a 11-2 run, with six of those points being layups. Dylan Allen broke the run with a layup of his own making the score 11-6.

The first half found the Titans battling to get control of the lead after the early run by the Cardinals. The Titans got within one point on a couple of occasions. Kenny Washington made a layup at the 11:37 mark making it 11-10. A short time after Tracy Miles made a layup making it 13-12.

The Titans eventually tied it up 31-31 after a huge three by Dylan Allen but would never lead in the first.

The first half was back and forth but the Cardinals held a steady lead throughout. By no means were the Titans out of it with the largest lead being eight points by the Cardinals. At the end of the half Titans were down 39-35.

Norell Smith kicked things off in the second half with a made free throw. The Titans slowly diminished the Cardinal lead the longer the half went, after playing good defense that led to missed shots and turnovers.

At the 14:42 mark the Titans took the lead with a layup from Donyell Meredith. At this point in the game you could feel the momentum starting to sway in the Titans favor. After taking the lead, the Titans exploded on offense.

Feeding off of the crowd, in a matter of eight minutes the Titans went from being tied to leading by 19 points. This was a 31-12 run that consisted of good defense, multiple 3’s and several fast break layups.

After a team timeout the Cardinals turned things around. With six minutes to go the Cardinals put together a run that made things interesting, chipping away the lead right until the end.

Down six, the Cardinals Jared Mcdaniel, hit a three to make it a one score game with nine seconds to go. After getting fouled on the next play, Dylan Allen came up with a clutch free throw to put the Titans up four points. A missed three with seconds remaining by the Cardinals ends the game, Titans win 90-86.

Bench points played a big factor in the win. The Titans scored 44 bench points compared to the Cardinals 12. The Titans also scored 19 points off turnovers to the Cardinals 9. The Titans top performers of the game are Tracy Miles and Norell Smith.

Tracy Miles scored 19 points off of 9 for 11 shooting, with 8 rebounds and 5 assists. Norell Smith scored 18 points off of 7 for 13 shooting with 12 rebounds.

Speaking of the offensive strategy and play, Coach Scott Cooper said, “Overall, we were very unselfish; we had different players score, and did a great job of recognizing what were our best match-ups to attack.”

On the team’s defense, Cooper said that improvement is needed, but that it isn’t unexpected coming from a team that hasn’t played together quite as much as other teams.

“We showed some flashes of how good we can be at times, but never really sustained the kind of effort and focus we need to reach our potential,” said Cooper.

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