"But then we relaxed," Gehler said. "Basically we stopped getting the ball inside against their zone. We flat-out stopped."
Instead the Arabs switched to a different attack mode.
"We started shooting jump shots," Gehler said. "And we don't have a player who can consistently hit from the outside."
Because of their large lead, the Arabs managed to stake a 23-20 cushion at halftime. But IVC came out cold in the second half, and it wasn't until nearly eight minutes had gone by that the Arabs finally scored.
By then MiraCosta had opened a 32-23 lead.
IVC managed to pull within four points down the stretch, but that was as close as the Arabs would get.
"In the second half they started to pound the ball inside," Gehler said of the Spartans. MiraCosta also managed to pick up quite a few fouls called against IVC.
The Spartans went to the free throw line 26 times and cashed in 22. IVC, meanwhile, converted just eight of 17 charity tosses.
"The difference was we got the lead and then relaxed," Gehler said. "We're young. We should have kept attacking and taken their heart out."
IVC point guard Michael Jayne set the spirited tone for the game when he hustled and saved a ball from going out of bounds at the defensive end in the opening moments. Jayne, the smallest player on the court at 5-10, had four rebounds to lead the Arabs in the first half.
At the other end of the court, Jayne fed Brandon Warner under the basket for two points. Warner was fouled on the play and sank the ensuing free throw.
The Arabs were off and running.
Ian McKeithen, who finished with 10 points to lead all Arabs, followed by scoring a layup, again off a pass from Jayne.
Warner then scored from down low before McKeithen hit a short jumper off a pass from Nate Moore.
Everything seemed to click for the Arabs. Nabil Mebarki took an offensive charge and that led to McKeithen's basket underneath the hoop. Again Jayne had the assist.
McKeithen then scored off a rebound of his own missed shot as IVC went on top 13-0.
Jayne followed with a steal that led to a successful drive by McKeithen. Mebarki converted a free throw and Moore swished a three-pointer as IVC took command at 19-0.
Finally, with 11 minutes left in the half, MiraCosta scored off a drive along the baseline.
The Spartans reeled off 13 straight points to climb back in the game within a five-minute span.
MiraCosta did the same thing at the start of the second half, scoring 12 unanswered points before Warner hit down low off a pass from Hugo Estrada at the 12:08 mark.
Warner hit a couple free throws and Mebarki buried a trey as IVC pulled to 34-30 with just under 10 minutes to play. That was as close as the Arabs would come, however.
In addition to McKeithen, IVC got nine points from Warner and Moore, seven from Mebarki, four from both Tyrese Watkins and Glen Ellis and two from Eric Estrada.
Nick Burgess led MiraCosta with 23 points, 18 in the second half.
IVC (1-10 Pacific Coast Conference) hosts San Diego Mesa College at 7 p.m. Wednesday.