Wednesday November 23rd, 2016

Fort Wayne pulled off a major upset over No. 3 Indiana Tuesday night on the Mastodons’ home court, winning 71–68 in overtime to stun the Hoosiers.

It was a shocking turn of events for a team that just a day prior had jumped into the top five of the AP poll, largely on the back of its strong season-opening overtime win over then-No. 3 Kansas. The Hoosiers weren’t expected to have another true test until their Nov. 30 matchup with No. 4 North Carolina.

Indiana came out flat from the start, settling for three pointers that weren’t falling as Fort Wayne built up an early nine-point lead. The Hoosiers went on a run to close the first half, cutting the deficit to two going into halftime, but the Mastodons showed quickly in the second stanza that their upset bid was serious.

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John Konchar, who finished with 15 points, threw down a pair of impressive dunks that helped Fort Wayne take a 12-point lead with 10 minutes to play. On the ropes, Indiana roared back with a 11–1 run, until both teams stalled and the score remained deadlocked at 62–60 for the next three minutes. The teams traded three-pointers late, but the Mastodons appeared stymied by the 2–3 zone Indiana had switched to and a pair of free throws by Thomas Bryant in the final 20 seconds of regulation sent the game to overtime.

The Hoosiers and their high-powered offense entered Tuesday ranked fourth in adjusted offensive efficiency on kenpom.com, but they managed just one field goal in the extra period as Fort Wayne’s Xzavier Taylor swatted away a pair of shots to anchor the Mastodon defense. Two free throws by DeAngelo Stewart with 2.9 seconds left iced the upset win, despite the fact that two of Fort Wayne’s starters had fouled out.

After scoring 103 in its overtime win over Kansas and averaging 96.7 through their first three games, Indiana managed just 68 in this one and shot 40.3% from the floor and 29.2% (7 of 24) from behind the arc. Eight missed free throws and 15 turnovers were also key in the loss, however it should be noted that starting forward OG Anunoby played just 13 minutes due to an illness, which coach Tom Crean revealed postgame.

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The loss is for sure a setback to this Indiana team, but it’s important to remember that it’s only November and that while this Hoosiers team has boatloads of potential (see: its win over the Jayhawks), it still has plenty of growing to do. A poor November loss could potentially factor in during NCAA tournament seeding debates in March (as will the Mastodons’ performance the rest of the way), but the best thing this Indiana team can do right now is learn from what went wrong Tuesday and move on.

Meanwhile, it’s hard to quantify how much the win, and even the game itself, meant to Fort Wayne, the preseason Summit League favorites but a program that had never beaten a top 25 team before Tuesday and has never made the Division I NCAA tournament. The game was played on the Fort Wayne campus, about three hours north of Bloomington, but according to multiple reporters the sold-out crowd had so many Hoosiers fans on hand that the atmosphere felt like a home game for Indiana. In a nice moment after his team’s victory, Fort Wayne coach Jon Coffman expressed gratitude to Crean for scheduling the game and “taking the challenge.”

“They’ll be talking about Indiana coming to Fort Wayne for the next 50 years, and he was the reason they did it.”

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