Fort Wayne once again gets the best of the Hoosiers

Robert Johnson had 17 points in the Hoosiers' loss to Fort Wayne.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Fort Wayne coach John Coffman simply told his players to be themselves Monday night at Indiana.

He wanted them to use their 3-point shooters to attack Indiana’s defense. He wanted them to stick to the defensive game plan.

And after 40 minutes of waiting, watching and worrying about another poor stretch derailing the Mastodons’ latest upset bid, Coffman finally got another chance to celebrate a monumental victory.

Kason Harrell scored a career-high 28 points, Bryson Scott added 26 and the Mastodons made 17 3-pointers to blow out the Hoosiers 92-72 on their home floor.

“Our No. 1 priority was to play with an attack mentality,” Coffman said before thinking back to last season’s upset over Indiana. “That was the No. 1 thing that put us in position last year. Then it had to be toughness. We talked a lot about rebounding — tip, tip, tip and then we’ve got a garbage collector with a Matt Weir or a Bryson Scott rebounding.”

The Mastodons (6-5) did just enough on the glass to make it work.

But they were so dominant everywhere else, they didn’t even need overtime to win this time.

It’s the fifth time an in-state team, other than Notre Dame or Purdue, has posted consecutive wins over the Hoosiers, and Fort Wayne did it by matching Indiana State’s record-breaking total for 3s made by a visiting team at Assembly Hall.

“Again I told the guys on the staff, I’m not sure you can make 17 3s in a game once in a decade let alone a season, twice at home,” coach Archie Miller said. “It’s comprehensible.”

But it happened, and when the Mastodons’ long-distance shooters warmed up in the second half, the game turned quickly.

After watching Indiana rally from a 33-27 first-half deficit to take a 40-36 lead early in the second half, Fort Wayne reverted to its customary form.

It made three 3s during a 17-5 run that gave them a 53-44 lead with 14:03 to go.

Then, with Indiana trailing 58-51, they made four more 3s in a 1:41 stretch to extend the lead to 70-53. One more 7-0 scoring flurry put the Hoosiers in a 21-point deficit that it couldn’t rebound from.

Robert Johnson had 17 points and Juwan Morgan finished with 14 for Indiana (6-6).

“They felt the pressure of our poise on offense because we played our process for 40 minutes,” Coffman said. “We got great shot after great shot after great shot. Seventeen 3s, that’s a good night for us but that’s not surprising. We’ve done that before. What was really good was that for 40 minutes we stuck with being us.”

BIG PICTURE

Fort Wayne: The Mastodons proved last year’s stunning upset was no fluke. This time, they made the three-hour trek to Bloomington and went home with an even more impressive victory. The win will help fortify Fort Wayne’s resume but it has to continue to win.

Indiana: It took less than 72 hours for the biggest win of Miller’s first season to wear off. The Hoosiers now have two embarrassing losses to in-state mid-major teams. The Hoosiers gave up 34 3s in those losses and have allowed 51 in the other 10.

KEY NUMBERS

Fort Wayne: John Konchar had 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. … The Mastodons wound up 17 of 30 on 3s and 14 of 30 on 2s. … They scored 29 points off 18 Indiana turnovers while committing just 12. … Fort Wayne also had 13 steals. … Scott is 5-0 all-time against the Hoosiers, including three wins he had at Purdue. His twin brother, Brenton, plays for Indiana State and was part of season-opening win in Bloomington.

Indiana: Couldn’t take advantage of its 46-31 rebounding edge or the 20-6 advantage on the offensive end. … Indiana was 4 of 24 on 3s. … The other losing streaks against in-state teams other than Notre Dame and Purdue: Three straight to Butler from 1947 to 1948; two to the Bulldogs in 1957 and 1958 and two to Indiana State in 1999 and 2000. Butler also won the first three games in the series from 1901-02.

THEY SAID IT

Fort Wayne: “In the huddle one time, I said it looked like they weren’t confident and we wanted to take advantage of that and we did,” Scott said.

Indiana: “I think handling success is always a lot harder than getting kicked in the face,” Miller said when asked about the quick turnaround from the Notre Dame win.

UP NEXT

Fort Wayne: Opens play Thursday against Liberty in the first of two games at a tournament in New Orleans.

Indiana: Hosts Tennessee Tech on Thursday in the second-to-last non-conference game on the schedule.