Macomb, Ill. – The road losing streak continues. IUPUI gave up a season high points (90), opponent’s shooting (60 percent) and opponent’s three-point shooting (59 percent). They dug themselves far too deep a hole in the first half. Couple Western Illinois’s shooting numbers with a 24-point halftime hole for the Jaguars and it’s not difficult to imagine how this one played out. Despite scoring 53 in the second, the Jaguars still lost by 13, 90-77.
The loss comes despite a career night from D.J. McCall, who scored 25. He had only scored in double figures seven times prior to tonight and only over 20 once before. He finished with 21 points on 12 shots against Oral Roberts this past January. Despite nearly doubling his career high in shots (20), he still shot just under 50 percent and added eight rebounds and two steals. On the flip side, Aaron Brennan had his worst shooting night of the season and lowest scoring since the opener with eight points on 11 shots.
Western Illinois had stellar performances from both Dalan Ancrum and Kobe Webster. Webster led all scorers with 27 points on 10-for-14 shooting, including 5-for-7 from the three-point line. He also dished out eight assists. Ancrum scored 19 on 8-for-10 shooting with five rebounds.
The game started off at a crawl. IUPUI struck first with a jumper from McCall and led 4-2 over five minutes in, but things quickly got out of control for the Jaguars. Webster hit a three-point basket with 14:54 left in the half to take the lead. Webster hit another 3-pointer a few possessions later to push the lead to 10-6. After Brennan answered, Webster hit yet another 3-pointer to put the Leathernecks up five. His third 3-pointer triggered an 11-0 run that put Western Illinois up 21-8. Brennan hit a pair of free throws to stop the run but Western Illinois got right back at it. They scored another 10 straight to go up 33-10.
With 1:52 to go in the half, Webster hit another 3-pointer to put Western Illinois up 43-17 giving them a 26-point lead. The Leathernecks would eventually get the lead up to 27 points in the second half. Elyjah Goss‘s 3-pointer with 1:17 to go in the game brought the Jaguars back within 12, but they’d get no closer.
Goss’s 3-pointer at the end gave him a career high 10 points. In addition to Goss and McCall, Jaylen Minnett also scored a career high with 12 points. Despite all of the personal bests, there were plenty of shortcomings, especially on defense. They committed too many fouls, 21 compared to 14 for Western Illinois. They were outscored at the line 22-10 as a result. Western Illinois was very judicious with their 3-point shot, but IUPUI couldn’t defend it and allowed them to shoot 10-for-17.
On the offensive end, the starters really struggled. Brennan, T.J. Henderson and Ron Patterson combined to shoot 7-for-29, under 25 percent. They barely finished over 50 percent shooting from the line (10-for-18). They made a season-high nine 3-pointers, but took 30 of them and tied their season-low in shooting (30 percent).
This game definitely wasn’t a sure bet, but it absolutely was winnable and makes you wonder if something needs to change in preparation for road games. Under Head Coach Jason Gardner, the Jaguars had gone 3-0 against Western Illinois at home and 1-2 on the road. Coming into this season, Western Illinois was picked last in the Summit League coaches poll. They’ve had a strong showing so far this season with a 4-1 start, but that alone can’t explain a second-half lead of 27 points over a health IUPUI squad.
Unfortunately for IUPUI, if the road struggles continue, it’ll be a long stretch upcoming. They’ve got seven of their next nine games on the road including contests at Ball State, Purdue and Gonzaga. Ball State is up next this Saturday.