TIPTON – Tipton’s best offensive performance came Tuesday night.
West Lafayette did not pick a good time to go cold from the field, digging itself into a deficit of 17 points in the Inferno that it could not recover from.
Mason Degenkolb scored 21 points and Sam Gutierrez added 15 on a combined 14 of 25 shooting to put away the Red Devils 57-45.
The Blue Devils’ defense matched their offensive output, limiting West Side to 39 percent from the field.
“We haven’t been a very good team defensively and we’ve practiced 25 days since our last game,” first-year Tipton coach Lou Lefevre said. “I was hoping to see a revamped defense and we didn’t see it in the in the first quarter.”
Three of West Lafayette’s five made 3s came in the first 5:17 and the two sides traded blows throughout the first half.
The swing started in the second quarter after a solid start by West Lafayette.
Having led by as many as six in the opening half, the Red Devils found themselves down four with a chance to cut the Tipton lead to one possession at halftime. Instead, a point-blank layup caught the side of the rim and Degenkolb scored in transition to put the Blue Devils ahead 29-23.
“I thought we let down the last 10 seconds of the half and that was a two-possession swing that hurt,” WL coach Dave Wood said.
An abysmal shooting performance in the second half assured the Red Devils that halftime deficit was as close as they’d get the rest of the night.
“We would miss one shot, then it was one after the other,” senior Bradley Bittles said. “We were getting great shots but they just weren’t falling tonight. I think if we play as we did tonight, we just weren’t hitting shots, we’ll be OK. If we were hitting those shots, we would have been right with them.”
West Lafayette, coming off a home loss at the buzzer to Western where Wood felt his team did not perform, saw improvement Tuesday night but inability to score, showing impatience in an attempted comeback where they shot just 1 of 9 from 3-point range in the final two quarters.
Meanwhile, Tipton (6-2) made nearly half their baskets and outrebounded West Lafayette (5-5) 34-26.
“I thought they played extremely, but I thought our approach to the game was really good,” Wood said. “I thought our approach to the game (against Western) from a mental and emotional standpoint, I thought it was terrible.”
Only four Red Devils scored, led by senior Trev Parker’s 20, 15 from Nai Carlisle and five apiece from Jared Snoble and Charlie Nycz, who left with an injury in the second half.