Frank Gaines made his senior night a memorable one, as the IPFW forward became the top scorer in school history in a mostly dominating 88-75 victory over Bowling Green on Saturday at the Coliseum.
Gaines needed 19 points to set the mark and he accomplished that easily with a game-high 26 points.
"I tried not to think about it," Gaines said. "But every person I saw was reminding me. I tried to just focus on wining."
That focus was a good one, as the Mastodons (14-16) came out scorching against the Falcons (11-16) and through the first 30-plus minutes were never threatened.
IPFW hit 10 of its 14 3-point shots in the first half to build a comfortable lead. The Mastodons sank a dozen long shots, which was the second most this season, while the team's 24 assists were a new season-high.
"I thought we shot the heck out of it in the first half," IPFW coach Tony Jasick said. "And then kind of hung on for dear life down the stretch."
The Mastodons led by as many as 22 points, but in the final 10 minutes of play, Bowling Green began to pressure the Dons defensively, and chipped away at the lead.
The Falcons trimmed their deficit to as few as nine on multiple occasions late, but IPFW continued to make enough plays to preserve the victory.
"I felt like we were very casual over the last five or six minutes of the game," Jasick said.
The victory was the fourth consecutive by IPFW, which is one shy of the longest success streak in Jasick's two seasons.
"We are sharing the ball and basically having fun on the court," Gaines said of the strong recent play. "There were points in the season where we would get angry with each other and we weren't having fun. But we put on the board 'Have fun,' and that is what we are trying to stick with."
Gaines has totaled 1,773 career points, which passed former Mastodon great Sean Gibson, who was in attendance on Saturday.
Gaines was joined by three teammates in double figures, as Luis Jacobo, Mario Hines, and Joe Reed, each added a dozen points.
Contributing to many of the baskets was sophomore Joe Edwards, who set a new career-high with seven assists, while junior guard Pierre Bland dished out six.
IPFW's plus-11 assist-to-turnover margin on Saturday was season-best.
"Gaines, through all of this, has been coached harder than anyone in this program," Jasick said. "When your best player can respond to coaching, and you can coach your team through your best player, it helps the progress of everybody else."
Bowling Green was led by Chauncey Orr who scored 17 points, while Jordon Crawford scored 14 and Richaun Holmes a dozen.
The Mastodons will close their regular season with a Summit League road game at Oakland on Saturday at 6 p.m.