It’s not often that sequels are better than the original, but in the case of this season’s IU Southeast mens basketball team — that just might be the case.
The fourth-ranked Grenadiers eclipsed the century mark for the fifth time this season in beating Point Park (Pa.) 110-95 Saturday night at the IU Southeast Activities Building.
Despite winning their fourth straight game, Grenadiers head coach Wiley Brown was not the happiest guy in the building after the game.
“I wasn’t very pleased with our effort tonight,” said Brown, who guided the Grenadiers to its first-ever NAIA II Final Four last season. “We have some really talented players, but sometimes they get a little lackadaisical and think a game here or there is going to be easy. We’re trying to play way above where we played tonight. We’re trying to win a national championship.”
The Pioneers (7-7, 3-2) were taking it to the hosts early as a Nick Brown 3 gave the visitors a 22-15 lead with 11:37 left in the first half. IU Southeast (9-3, 3-0) then flexed its offensive muscle by ripping off a 24-6 run over the next 6:35 and led 39-28 after a Cameron Mitchell steal and dunk.
The Grenadiers, who lead NAIA Div. II in scoring at 97 points per game, had a 59-39 advantage at intermission. The home team nailed six triples and shot 51 percent in the first 20 minutes, but Point Park controlled the glass, much to the displeasure of coach Brown.
“[Point Park] had a ton of offensive rebounds and that shouldn’t happen because we have a very athletic team,” he said of the Pioneers’ 15 offensive boards at the break. “[Point Park] wanted those rebounds. Rebounding is about desire. We had a long talk just now about being determined to go up there and get the boards. I was disappointed with all of the second shots they got. That’s all we talked about in practice — not giving a good shooting team like them second shots.”
IU Southeast placed five players in double figures, led by Kevin Mitchell’s 26. Cameron Mitchell added 23 and totaled a team-high 11 rebounds with two assists and two steals to boot.
“Cameron Mitchell played really well, but on the same token, I saw him relax on some rebounds,” Brown said of the reigning KIAC Player of the Year. “I thought he should have had 20 rebounds tonight. I told him that I want him to be great, and I felt like he settled for good tonight.”
The Grenadiers next game is Tuesday night at Cincinnati Christian.
IU SOUTHEAST 110, POINT PARK 95
Point Park (7-7, 3-2): Nike Brown 21, Alan Heter 16, Matt Noszka 19, Gabe McNeal 17, Robbie Heatherington 18, Josh Pohlot 4.
IU Southeast (9-3, 3-0): Kegan Clark 6, Vernon Payne 12, Kevin Mitchell 26, Jake Simpson 17, Cameron Mitchell 23, Carlos Jones 2, Greg Magee 11, Martez Harris 5,Jordan Thompson 2, Aaron Hayes 6.
Halftime score: IU Southeast 59-39.
3-point field goals: Point Park 11 (Heatherington 4, Brown 3, Noszka 3, McNeal), IU Southeast 9 (K. Mitchell 2, Simpson 2, Hayes 2, C. Mitchell, Magee, Harris).
Rebounds: Point Park 51, IU Southeast 48.
Turnovers: Point Park 14, IU Southeast 9.
Field goal shooting: Point Park 37-89, IU Southeast 42-84.
Three-point field goal shooting: Point Park 11-33, IU Southeast 9-25.
Free throw shooting: Point Park 10-23, IU Southeast 17-24.