IUP, the No. 1-ranked team in the media’s regional rankings, tallying all six first-place votes.

The No. 7 IUP men’s basketball team has a cold winter ahead of it, but things are just heating up on the court.

The Crimson Hawks moved up two spots to No. 7 in the latest National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division II Top 25.

This ranking is coming off a 5-0 streak to begin the season-winning four at home and one away.

The last four wins have come with 90 or more points on the board with as much as a 52-point margin.

This strong start to the season has pushed the team from 18th to seventh in the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) poll and landed third on the Division II Sports Information Directors Association (D2SIDA) national poll.

“Me, personally,” guard Dave Morris (redshirt junior, kinesiology, health and sport science) said, “I try to tell the team not to pay attention to those rankings. We started off 18th, and we all know what we’re capable of being and what our main goal is, so we can’t let that distract us.”

The only team above the Hawks that they will see before playoffs is Mercyhurst, which is ranked third.

IUP will play Mercyhurst twice later in the season at home and away.

The starting five have been a powerhouse lately with guard Armoni Foster (redshirt junior, criminal justice) earning a triple-double in the 97-45 victory against Virginia State last week.

He scored 22 points with a career-high 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

“Armoni is that type of player,” Morris said. “He does it all. That’s what I expect from him. He’s the best player in the country in DII in my eyes. He’s a winner and a team player.”

Foster has earned this triple-double along with two double-doubles in his first five games.

“I try not to get too high about my accomplishments or too low about my failures,” Foster said. “My first triple-double felt good, and I owe it all to my teammates.

“I wish my grandmother was here to see it, but I know she’s in my heart and would tell me to keep going and play my best.”

This was the first triple-double the team has earned since Malik Miller scored 20 points with 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a win against Edinboro in February 2019.

Before that, Bowie State could not stop guard Shawndale Jones (redshirt senior, communications media) as he shot 16-28 for 37 points, the most scored by an IUP player since Brandon Norfleet scored 38 against Seton Hill in January 2016.

Jones also came out of that game with six rebounds, three assists and a steal.

Forward Tommy Demogerontas (redshirt fifth year, business) also posted career highs with 23 points and 15 rebounds. This was his second double-double of the year and his fourth in eight games.

Against Le Moyne, the team won 106-67 – a 39-point margin – but Morris came out early in the second half with an outer knee injury.

“I had come down awkwardly on my knee,” Morris said. “Luckily, it was just a bruise, so I took time off. It’s still a day-by-day rehab to get it back stronger.”

“It’s always fun to play with David,” Foster said. “He brings a different type of energy to our team, and everyone can tell. He is a brother to me, and I enjoy playing with him.”

The team is averaging 97.8 points through its first five games, and all five starters are averaging in the double digits.

This weekend, the Hawks will travel to Kutztown on Friday and then West Chester on Saturday. Both games will begin at 7:30 p.m.

“Playing basketball over winter break is a weird feeling at first,” Foster said, “but our community does a good job of coming out to support us.”

“Our plan these upcoming games is to keep doing what we’re doing,” Morris said. “We’re still hungry and not satisfied: taking every game one at a time and learning from them to get better. With us being a top team, we’re going to get everyone’s best game.

“I want to do whatever it takes to help [Foster] get a national championship, and that’s our main goal as a team.”

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