NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Indiana University South Bend men’s basketball team earned a trip to the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship after engineering a well-rounded performance in Friday, Feb. 28, night’s semifinal at No. 9 Holy Cross. The Titans triumphed 64-44 over crosstown rival to play in the title game for the first time since the 2015-16 season and second time under head coach Scott Cooper.
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After going into halftime with a 32-19 lead, IU South Bend outscored Holy Cross 32-25 in the second period to wrap up a 20-point win. It marked the second win over the Saints during the 2019-20 campaign and handed Holy Cross its first loss since back on Jan. 4 when the Titans defeated HCC 74-66 inside the Student Activities Center.
Junior Norell Smith got the offense sparked in the first half, hitting back-to-back three-pointers to put the Titans up 12-9 with 13 minutes left to play in the half. IU South Bend scored seven straight points in a span of five points to help the Crimson & Cream take a 13-point lead into the locker room.
Smith was the spark for the squad, leading the Titans with 21 points off 6-of-11 shooting from three-point territory to go along with 12 rebounds for a double-double performance. Smith also grabbed his 200th rebound of the season, becoming No. 9 in the single-season rebounding Titan basketball record book.
Sophomore Donyell Meredith II contributed off the bench with 12 points and dished out two assists. IUSB’s season-leading scorer, senior Kourtlandt Martin added nine points in his second CCAC Tournament game of his Titan career.
IU South Bend finished the game shooting 44.9 percent (22-of-49) from the field including 37 percent (10-of-27) from downtown. The Saints shot 33.3 percent (17-of-51) from the floor and just 8.3 percent (1-of-12) from three-point range. IUSB held decisive advantages over HCC in points off turnovers (22-10) and bench points (17-6).
Indiana University South Bend will play in its first CCAC Championship game since 2016 Monday night, March 2, at top-seeded and No. 4 Olivet Nazarene.