The IPFW men's basketball squad is competitive if nothing else.
The Mastodons dropped a 58-54 decision at the Gates Sports Center in front of 1,176 fans on Saturday to Summit League-power North Dakota State. The home defeat was IPFW's fourth in 12 games, with each loss coming by four points or less.
IPFW has eight losses this seaosn by less than nine points in each setback.
Frank Gaines scored a team-high 16 points, pushing him into 22nd in Summit League history in career scoring, within eight of 1,700 career points, and 73 off of the school record.
Luis Jacobo scored 14 for the Mastodons, while Isaiah McCray hit for nine point on three three-point baskets. Jacobo pulled down a team-best five rebounds, while Gaines and Michael Kibiloski each dished out three assists.
A Kibiloski three on IPFW's first possession gave the hosts a one-point lead, as the teams went back and forth for the entire half, totaling three tie scores and six lead changes.
Trailing by two at 11-9, IPFW rattled off an 11-2 run to lead by seven with 8:07 to play, the largest lead by either team in the contest.
IPFW had a 24-19 lead with 3:49 to play after a Joe Edwards jumper, however, the Bison ended the half on a 7-1 run, taking a one-point, 26-25 lead into the locker room at halftime after a Marshall Bjorklund lay-in with just over a minute to play in the period.
The hotly contested second half saw three more ties and six more lead changes. IPFW led by three at 34-31 after a pair of free throws by Gaines, but the Bison proceeded to take off to a 10-3 run to lead by five with 11:43 to play, forcing the Mastodons into a timeout.
After the 30-second break, IPFW quickly answered back, turning the five-deficit into a tie score after a 6-1 run over the next three minutes, as McCray and Kibiloski each hit three-pointers to give the game its sixth tie score of the contest.
Over the final eight and a half minutes of the game, the margin never reached more than six when the Bison led 55-49, before Jacobo scored five straight points to close the gap to one at 55-54 with 32 seconds to play.
After a pair of Mike Felt free throws pushed NDSU ahead by three, IPFW missed a shot at their own end, and immediately fouled to stop the clock. Bison free throw shooter Brett VandenBergh proceeded to miss both of his attempts, however, on the rebound attempt Edwards stepped on the sideline, giving NDSU possession of the ball again, and after another foul, Felt hit 1-of-2 free throw attempts to give the game its 58-54 final score.
IPFW hit 17-of-37 shots from the field (45.9 percent), and 9-of-16 (56.3 percent) from long range.
North Dakota State hit 40.4 percent from the field (19-of-47), but outrebounded the Mastodons 30-to-24.
The Mastodons will travel to Kansas City on Thursday.