The Indiana Tech men’s basketball team made the 150-mile trek back to Fort Wayne following its 85-66 thumping of No. 8-ranked Davenport Wednesday via a bus, however, the Warrior players and coaches could’ve just as easily flown home on their own power they were shot so full of adrenaline after the stunning road victory."Without a doubt," third-year Indiana Tech coach John Peckinpaugh said when assessing whether or not this was his program’s most impressive win during his time as coach.
Indiana Tech (14-5, 9-2 Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference) had lost 14 of its 17 games against ranked teams over the last two-plus seasons, including all four to the Panthers (14-5, 8-3), by an average margin of nearly 20 points per defeat. But Wednesday’s victory was the second straight over a ranked opponent for Indiana Tech (it beat No. 25-ranked Northwestern Ohio Saturday) and the Warriors played to win from the opening tip.
The Warriors trailed just one time (8-7) early in the game, and a basket by center Scott Schwieterman with 8:41 left in the first half kick-started a 10-1 run that put Indiana Tech ahead to stay."With the exception of the second half of the Northwestern Ohio game," Peckinpaugh said, "we are really starting to guard better. We’re doing a good job of keeping the ball out of the lane (on drives) and on one side of the floor, which is where we want it."
The Warrior defense limited Davenport to just 33 percent shooting in the opening half and 38 percent for the game, including an anemic 3 of 14 from 3-point line, as Indiana Tech took a 37-27 lead into the break. And that mojo just grew from there.
Following an opening basket by Davenport to start the second half, Indiana Tech scored six straight points and outscored the hosts 11-4 over the first 4:22 of the second half.
"Our guys are really starting to click offensively," Peckinpaugh said. "If you look at our offensive numbers, we’ve got six guys in double figures and we’re doing a really good job of sharing the ball."
Indiana Tech made 25 shots Wednesday and 14 came off of a pass.
Fifth-year senior guard Miles Robinson has been stellar all season in scoring the ball, and he paced the Warriors Wednesday with 20 points. But a surprise for Peckinpaugh this season has been the play of transfer guard C.J. Bussey.
The 6-foot-1 senior combo guard hit a 3-pointer to send the Warriors into halftime with momentum and confidence and he finished with 19 points in 31 minutes.
"He’s been able to give us a spark offensively off of the bench," Peckinpaugh said of the Mount Vernon Nazarene transfer. "He’s going to make something happen for us. Some games it might be bad, but in most games this year, it has been really good."
Peckinpaugh thought he would redshirt Bussey this season, but he played so well in the early practices that those plans were scrapped in mid-November. Bussey has scored in double figures eight times this season and raised his scoring average to 10.6 points per game after shooting 8 of 17 against Davenport.
The Panthers hadn’t lost at home by this big of a margin since Indiana Tech beat them 69-50 in the WHAC Tournament six years ago, and it wasn’t as if Davenport had been playing poorly.
The Panthers had won 7 of their last 8 games and were coming off a 9-point win over the top team in NAIA Division II (Cornerstone) four days earlier.
Indiana Tech has been playing well of late, also. The Warriors have won 8 of their last 9 games and Wednesday’s victory puts them in sole possession of second place in the WHAC behind Cornerstone (17-2, 10-1).
"Hopefully," Peckinpaugh said, "we’re peaking at the right time and we continue to get better over this next stretch of games."
Schwieterman totaled 15 points in the win, while Lavonte Davis added 12.
Indiana Tech will host Siena Heights (10-8, 5-6) Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Schaefer Center.