By: AUSTIN PARKS
The IU South Bend Titans men’s basketball team led most of the game, but a late rally by the Olivet Nazarene University Tigers gave the Titans their thirteenth loss of the season.
“We did not play our best game on Wednesday against Olivet Nazarene. They are a very talented and experienced team that you have to be at your best for 40 minutes in order to beat,” said Head Coach Scott Cooper.
“Defensively we played very well in the first half of the game, but struggled to maintain our focus on that end of the floor in the second half. Offensively, we were really out of rhythm early in the game, and while we did get better as the game went on, we just were not ourselves,” said Cooper.
A lack of three-point defense and fouling aided in the Titans’ loss. The Tigers shot an impressive 50 percent from the three going 14-for-28. The Tigers also got to the line more than the Titans, shooting 25 attempted free throws compared to the Titans 17. The Tigers converted at a higher rate as well, making 20 to the Titans 10.
That would make all the difference in a close game that came down to the final seconds.
The Titans led by as much as 10 points in the second half but their lead would dwindle with the Tigers tying the ball game at the seven minute mark. The second half run from the Tigers consisted of seven consecutive three’s in a row in a five minute span.
From that point on the game went back and forth until the Tigers pulled away late making a pair of free throws to go up six with nine seconds left.
The Titans would lose to the Tigers 90-81. This gives them an 8-13 record with a 3-8 record in the CCAC. Despite the loss Cooper remains positive.
“As we go forward in the last third of the season, if we can continue to improve defensively, and play at the high level offensively that we have been for the last two months, I think we will be very competitive,” said Cooper.
Norell Smith had another good game for the Titans. He was the top scorer with 23 points on 9-for-18 shooting. Miles Tracy also led the team in rebounding with nine.
Worthy of mentioning prior to this game the Titans had an uphill battle in preparation for the Tigers.
“Unfortunately, we had seven different guys, plus myself, that got a pretty serious stomach illness coming back from our game the previous Saturday. That forced us to cancel the two practices that we had to prepare for this game. I thought our guys did a great job of competing, and not using that as an excuse, but we looked unprepared for the game, and that was unfortunately outside of our control in this case,” said Cooper.