RUSSIAVILLE, Ind. -- Nothing like putting the finishing touches on a great season. The Indiana University Kokomo Cougars wrapped up their inaugral season with a 96-77 victory over the visiting St. Francis jayvee squad here.
Thursday night, putting five players into double figures, Anthony Graves led the Cougars with 23 points while Nathaniel Carroll and Brandon Larrick each chipped in 15. Aaron Knupp and Jared Lawrence finished with 12 points each.
That was the plan from the start, said first-year Coach Jace Thompson after the game."We said it in the locker room and wrote it on the board," Thompson said. "Keep your hands high, attack on offense, and the end result will be a victory."
Kokomo led 49-44 at halftime, then came out in the second half and started trading baskets with St. Francis until about the 14-minute mark until a 10-3 run by the visitors cut IUK's lead to 65-64. But the Cougars answered -- in a big way. Lawrence canned a pair of free throws then dropped in a three-pointer from the right wing. Carroll followed a St. Francis miss with his own three-pointer that ignited a 20-2 IUK run.
When the dust settled with just over four minutes to play, the Cougars were comfortably in control, 85-66.
Five different Cougars scored in the outburst.
"We have a lot of guys capable of knocking down those shots," Thompson said.Thompson began the game with a different look, utilizing a starting five consisting of players who usually don't see a lot of playing time.
"Those are the guys who probably weren't anywhere last year," Thompson explained. "They came in here and worked hard in practice despite not seeing a lot of playing time. They deserved a chance to hear their named called. If you noticed, the starters were standing, applauding their effort."
IUK enjoyed a nice advantage on the boards, out-rebounding St. Francis 41-23, led by Larrick's 11 rebounds.
"Brandon decided he was going to come out and let loose, crash the boards, go for those loose balls," Thompson said. "And he did. Then everyone else did, too. It was kind of infectious."
After the game, the Cougars first honored lone senior Jarrett Adams for his contributions, on and off the court. Chancellor Michael Harris then spoke to the crowd and team about what he called, "a historic event."
"You are now part of history," he told the team, "and you will always be able to say you were part of the first basketball team at IU Kokomo. I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who helped make this a success."
For the visitors, S.J. Moultrie, a Kokomo High School graduate, was one of three players to finish with 14 points.
Story by Mike Geiselman.