Indiana State's men's basketball team took its best defensive effort of the season and added its best shooting performance en route to a 72-60 victory over Loyola Marymount on the second day of the 2019 Junkanoo Jam at Resorts World Bimini on Friday.
ISU tasted victory for the first time this season to improve to 1-4, while Loyola Marymount fell to 2-3. The Sycamores improved to 2-1 against the Lions all-time and this was the first win over the program since 1948.
"What a relief," Indiana State coach Greg Lansing said afterward. "These guys have been busting their tails. ... We've just gotta keep getting better."
Defensively, the Sycamores limited Loyola Marymount to a 44.7 shooting percentage, including just a trio of 3-pointers. Offensively, ISU hit 14 of 25 from long range — led by a career-high-tying seven 3-pointers from senior Jordan Barnes.
Barnes led the Sycamores with a career-high-tying 29 points. Freshman Jake LaRavia made it two games in a row in double digits scoring with 10 points despite battling foul trouble. Cooper Neese hit four 3-pointers to finish with a career-high 21 points.
"[Barnes and Neese] were really good," Lansing emphasized. "J.B. [Barnes], it's his senior year and he maybe looks a little casual with what he's doing and with his mannerisms. But he's really taken to being a leader this year. ... He's finding a way with each one of his teammates to get the most out of them."
"[The Lions] were playing a lot of zone [defense]," Barnes pointed out. "My teammates did a good job of getting me open ... driving and kicking it."
"I'm just trying to pick up whatever I can for my teammates," Neese noted.
ISU connected on 52.4 percent (22 of 42) from the field. The Sycamores were led in rebounding by Neese, who finished with nine boards.
Indiana State made it an 8-0 run around halftime when Jake LaRavia connected on a 3-pointer from the top of the key on the Sycamores' first offensive possession to give ISU a 36-32 advantage. The Sycamores would not score again until the clock ticked under the 15-minute mark when Barnes hit his fifth 3-pointer and after a LMU bucket, Christian Williams connected from downtown to establish a 42-38 cushion.
Barnes connected on his sixth 3-pointer with 13:57 on the clock and added a charity toss to complete a four-point play and extend the Sycamores' lead to 46-40. When Barnes tied his career high with his seventh 3-pointer at the 10:52 mark, that extended ISU's lead to 52-43.
Tre Williams had the highlight-reel dunk of the season with 8:40 remaining in the contest plus the foul to push the Indiana State cushion to 55-44. LMU got the Sycamore lead down to seven points before Neese connected on a fadeaway with a little more than four minutes remaining to give ISU the 61-52 lead. LMU cut its deficit to five again, but Barnes hit a high floater off the glass to push the Sycamores ahead 63-56. Neese hit the dagger with 1:45 remaining from the corner to boost the ISU margin to 67-56.
Barnes opened the scoring with a 3-pointer – the first of four in the opening 20 minutes for him — at the 19:13 mark to stake the Sycamores to an early lead. Cooper Neese answered with a trifecta of his own on the next offensive possession to push ISU ahead 6-2.
Loyola Marymount was led in scoring by Ivan Alipiev with 13 points.
ISU (1-4) will conclude its portion of the Junkanoo Jam on Sunday against Air Force, starting at 4 p.m. Also Sunday, Loyola Marymount (2-3) will face Duquesne, which defeated Air Force on Friday to put itself in the driver's seat to win the round-robin tournament.