By: Bayley Goodman
IU South Bend men’s basketball team was excited for their 2020-21 season after winning the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament the previous year. The Titans started the season off beating both Trinity Christian and Bellevue College before IU South Bend halted all athletics. With little hope of playing, all the team could do was wait for clearance. Luckily, the clearance came just in time for the CCAC tournament.
With only two games under their belt, the Crimson and Cream were ranked No. 15, the last seed in the conference. Their road through the tournament would be rough traveling to the No. 2 seed, Holy Cross, for the opening round. The Titans great shooting and slight rebounding edge carried them to a one-point victory over the Saints. There was no time to celebrate the win as the team only had one day to prepare for the seventh seed, Lincoln College.
Thankful for the opportunity to play, the men knew that they had to take advantage of every chance they got to step on the court. Despite only playing two regular-season games and being sidelined for 85 days with no practice or competition, the team had one thing for sure…fight. Against Lincoln, IU South Bend got down as low as eleven points before fighting back to only a four-point deficit before the half. With only eight seconds left, the Titans had finally captured the lead by one until senior Dylan Allen hit two clutch free throws to put them up three. Lincoln was unable to connect on the offensive end giving the Titans the 62-59 win in the CCAC quarterfinals.
Entering the semi-finals, IU South Bend looked to face No. 11 IU Northwest Redhawks after they upset the No. 3 seed St. Ambrose. The rust was finally starting to shake off and the Titans found their groove. Shooting 50% from the field, the Titans racked up 52 points in the first half while IU Northwest was only able to score 30 points. The second half was no different as IU South Bend scored an additional 48 to give them the perfect 100-58 win over the Redhawks in the semi-finals.
Returning to the CCAC Championships, the Titans will continue to travel to the No. 1 seed, Olivet Nazarene, for a repeat of last year’s championship match-up. Olivet Nazarene only has three losses with two coming from the No. 1 team in the nation, Indiana Wesleyan and a close overtime loss to Saint Francis (IL) in their first game back after being quarantined for two weeks. The last time these two teams met was in the CCAC Championship game last year when IU South Bend hit a last-second three-pointer to send the game into overtime. The Titans were able to hold off the Tigers and captured the 91-86 victory, sending them to the NAIA Nationals before the entire tournament was canceled due to COVID-19. This will be the Indiana University South Bend men’s basketball third appearance in six years in the CCAC Championships.