Denver (incnow.tv)- A 16-2 second-half run turned a nine-point Denver lead into a five-point IPFW advantage, as the Mastodons out-scored Denver 36-24 over the final 10 minutes of the contest. The 'Dons made 11 of their last 13 shots, and used the momentum to remain perfect in the Summit League with a 67-64 win over the Pioneers.
IPFW (15-5, 3-0 Summit League) remained on top of the league standings behind a monstrous second-half effort from freshman Mo Evans, who scored each of his 18 points during IPFW's game-ending run. Steve Forbes scored 16 and Pierre Bland 13, while Luis Jacobo narrowly missed double-figures with nine points.
Forbes pulled down a game-high eight rebounds, as the Mastodons were out-rebounded 27-26, while Bland and Jacobo each dished out three assists.
The win puts IPFW 10-games above .500 for the first time since 1992-93, when the squad finished the year 23-6 and earned a berth into the NCAA Division II Tournament. The win also continues IPFW's best start to a season in the school's NCAA Division I history - two games better than the previous 20-game mark of 13-7 in 2010-11.
The teams battled back-and-forth in the first half, with the Mastodons twice leading by as many as seven points. Each time IPFW's run was countered by a Denver (7-10, 0-2 Summit) streak, as the 'Dons took a 25-24 lead into the locker room at halftime.
IPFW came out of the locker room at halftime and struggled, missing its first eight shots from the field and committing four turnovers. The team scored six points in the first nine and a half minutes of the half - all from the free throw line. The Mastodon halftime lead was erased, as Denver used a 12-0 run, putting the hosts ahead by nine at 40-31.
An Evans three-point play with 10:24 to play in the game snapped a six-minute Mastodon scoreless spell, and after seeing its offense struggle, the Mastodon defense tightened its belt and held Denver to just one field goal over the next four-minutes.
During the defensive stranglehold, IPFW got nine points from Evans and four more from Forbes as the Mastodons capped a 16-2 run on an Evans three-pointer with 7:07 to play that put IPFW ahead for good at 47-42.
The IPFW advantage reached as many as eight on a Joe Reed tip-dunk with 3:51 to play in the game; however, the strong Denver squad - which was picked to finish second in the league's pre-season poll - would not go quietly. The Pioneers fought back, but IPFW iced the game by hitting five-of-six free throws down the stretch in the three-point Mastodon win.
Denver was led by Cam Griffin, who scored 13 points as Brett Olson, Bryant Rucker, and Marcus Byrd each poured in 11 points.
The Mastodons remain on the road with a Saturday afternoon game at the University of South Dakota on Saturday, January 18 starting at 5 p.m. EST.
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