MARION, Ind. – The Indiana University South Bend men’s basketball team earned its first national tournament victory in Friday’s 2020-21 NAIA Men’s Basketball National Championship Opening Round, Presented by Ballogy after engineering a well-rounded performance in the Bracket-B first round contest. The Titans triumphed 82-71 over Rio Grande (Ohio) in their first game at the tournament in program history.
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After going into halftime with a 44-34 lead, IU South Bend outscored Rio Grande 38-37 in the second period to wrap up a 11-point win. It marked head coach Scott Cooper’s sixth victory over a River States Conference opponent and the Titans first victory over the RedStorm in the first ever head-to-head matchup between the two.
Three different Titans sparked the squad as senior Dylan Allen and juniors Miles Tracy and Donyell Meredith II all scored 19 apiece. Tracy was perfect from the floor, shooting 9-for-9 and hitting his lone three while Meredith added seven from the charity stripe and Allen went 5-for-7 from long range.
Meredith and senior Norell Smith led the Titans on the glass, grabbing six each. Smith etched his name in the IUSB record books at the 5:36 mark after grabbing an offensive rebound that led to a layup and his 1000th point as a Titan. Smith was the final Titan in double figures with 10 points on the night.
Micah Poole contributed off the bench with five points and collected two steals. Junior transfer Spencer Pettit added a team-high three assists.
IU South Bend trailed by as many as four, 11-7, early in the game before senior Sergio Diaz hit one of his two three pointers to put the Titans up 24-21 at the 10-minute mark.
After the break, the RedStorm clawed their way back and took one-point advantagewith five minutes remaining in regulation before IUSB outscored UGR 12-4 in little over a three minute span to help seal the victory.
IU South Bend finished the game shooting 52.5 percent (31-of-59) from the field including 45 percent (9-of-20) from downtown. The RedStorm shot 45.9 percent (28-of-61) from the floor and 37.5 percent (12-of-32) from three-point range. IUSB held decisive advantages over URG in points in the paint (40-20) and second chance points (8-4).
With the win, Indiana University South Bend moves its winning streak to 15 games that dates back to Feb. 5, 2020 when the Titans defeated Roosevelt in Chicago, Ill. by a score of 70-67. After a Holy Cross and Olivet Nazarene loss today, the Titans are now the only remaining Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference team in the tournament.
IU South Bend prepares for its Marion Bracket B championship game against host school and overall No. 1 seed Indiana Wesleyan which is schedule for Saturday, March 13 at 7 p.m. in Marion, Ind. inside Luckey Arena. Winner of Saturday’s contest will punch its ticket to the NAIA National Tournament final site in Kansas City, Mo. for the round of 16.