By Josh Sigler
Both squads were playing in an unfamiliar gymnasium for the first time.
Unfortunately for the home team, it showed up much worse in the boxscore when compared to the visiting counterparts.
Indiana University Kokomo hosted its first home game as an NAIA-affiliated school Tuesday night at Kokomo High School and suffered its worst shooting performance of the season, falling to 3-7 on the year after an 81-61 loss to Brescia University.
The Cougars suffered through a 1-for-27 showing from 3-point range, preventing the hosts from ever attaining an offensive rhythm. The Bearcats entered the contest firing at a 33.5-percent clip from beyond the arc, but connect on 12 of 24 from 3-land Tuesday night, including 10 of 17 in the first half, digging IUK a hole it was never able to dig out of.
“I don’t know what the deal was. We’re better shooters than that,” IUK coach Jace Thompson said. “And, to be quite honest, we’ve seen five tapes on [Brescia] and they’re not that good of shooters. They hit everything [Tuesday] night and we couldn’t hit anything, so unfortunately every time we would seem to get on a roll and cut it down, we just could not hit anything.”
The Cougars were unable to connect on their first field goal until five minutes had ticked off of the clock in the first half, and by the that time, the Bearcats (4-6) had built a 17-6 advantage.
Brescia extended its lead to as many as 20 points in the first half, but a 13-0 run that spanned five minutes late in the first half helped IUK claw to within 11 by the half, 43-32.
The Bearcats started the second half on an 11-2 run through the first six minutes to stretch the lead back out to 20 at 54-34 with 14:11 to play. IUK got no closer than 11 the rest of the way.
The Bearcats entered the contest shorthanded and also had to deal with a distinct size advantage.
Brescia played all eight players that suited up, and despite only one player over 6-foot-3, was able to collapse in the paint enough to neutralize the Cougars’ front line, which featured 6-foot-7 Joby Renbarger and 6-8 Jacob Faust.
The sagging defense forced IUK to attack from distance, and in the end paid great dividends, as Brescia limited the Cougars to a 28 percent night from the field (21 of 73) and won the rebounding battle 50-44.
“We’re used to it. We weren’t any taller [Tuesday] night than we are on any other night,” Brescia coach Josh Gibson said. “We’ve focused a lot this year on technique — five guys boxing out and crashing the boards. That helps us stay in games where maybe we are outsized at a lot of positions.”
IUK point guard Reomey Northington had been sidelined with a shoulder injury early in the season, but led the Cougars on Tuesday night with 16 points in his first game action of the season.
“He can do it all, and is going to be a good change of pace for us,” Thompson said of Northington. “People who have already played us and get us again are going to be surprised because he’s a good change-of-pace point guard who sees the floor well, can get in the paint and finish.”
Renbarger added 14 points while Faust finished with eight. The post duo tied for the team lead in rebounds with eight apiece.
Hunter Rowe led Bresica with 20 points, while Troy Halcomb pulled down a game-high nine boards.