By Grant Miller
After losing eight straight games and missing their leading scorer, the odds were against Illinois Institute of Technology. But IIT relied on faith in their team Tuesday night to pull out a win.
Despite missing a 20-point scorer in Samuel Rarick, IIT beat Moody Bible Institute 79-59 with a balanced effort of four players scoring in double-figures.
“We had guys go from single-digit to double-digit minutes,” IIT guard Anthony Mosley said after leading all scorers with 24 points. “So we made up for Sam’s scoring.”
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Rarick suffered a hamstring injury against Trinity International University Jan. 12, and IIT assistant Coach Ebenezer Noonoo said he was questionable to play against Moody before he joined his team for pre-game warmups. Rarick rode the bench for the game.
IIT head coach Todd Kelly said he saw improvement in his team’s play from earlier in the season, and he couldn’t single out one player to credit for their victory because of their overall team effort.
“Our ball movement has improved,” Kelly said. “Our transition game too. Anthony’s pretty fast, so once we get it to him, we can really push.”
IIT’s improved transition game produced 20 points off turnovers and eight fast break points against Moody. Mosley was their main catalyst with a game high three steals.
Jake Digiorgio, who grabbed 12 rebounds after averaging six rebounds the last two games, said he played better after he stopped putting pressure on himself and started enjoying the game. However, the team as a whole improved because of a shift in team culture that requires more intensity.
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“We’re more intense in practice and hold ourselves to a higher standard,” Digiorgio said after scoring 10 points. “I think we just expect more from each other.”
Mosley said IIT’s faster pace created more opportunities for their shooters. He also mentioned an improved team chemistry forged by the increased minutes caused by Rarick’s injury and improved practices at game speed.
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Mosley and Digiorgio were not IIT’s only major contributors. Parker Joncus started at forward and poured in 14 points, and Jake Bruns, a guard who played off IIT’s bench, stepped up by shooting four-of-eight from three; both of them scored over double their season average.
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Assistant coach Miles Kelson said this game was a good place to start over after a long losing streak. Once the Scarlet Hawks accepted that they had to win without their leading scorer, they did whatever it took.
“We needed a little taste of victory,” Kelson said.
Kelson said Rarick should be back for their next game against Saint Mary’s University next Tuesday.