Indianapolis, IN – A bounce-back game seemed in the works for IUPUI after a strong opening half against Missouri State, but they gave up an 11-point second-half lead and 55 second-half points on their way to a second-straight loss, 88-74.
Darell Combs scored 20 points to lead IUPUI and Matt O’Leary had one his strongest games of the season so far filling the stat sheet with 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Combs and O’Leary combined for seven turnovers though, as many as the entire Missouri State team.
Missouri State featured four double-figure scorers in a very top-heavy offense including Camyn Boone who led all scorers with 24 points. Only five other players scored for Missouri State.
IUPUI started the game in a quick hole and didn’t score until Jordan Pickett hit a 3-pointer two minutes in, but exploded for 25 points in nine minutes to take a 25-12 lead with 9:35 left in the half. They extended the lead to 14 points, but Missouri State cut the lead down to six points, 39-33 with six seconds left in the half before Combs hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 42-33 half-time lead.
IUPUI shot 50 percent in the first half including 6-for-11 on 3-pointers and limited Missouri State to 40.6 percent, but it all came crumbling down in the second half.
Combs’s shot with 18:04 left gave IUPUI a 46-35 lead, but Missouri State scored on five of their next seven possessions leading to 10 straight points and a one-point game.
Aaron Brennan hit a pair of free throws to end a three-minute scoring drought, but Missouri State scored another eight straight points to take a 53-48 lead with 12:17 to go.
IUPUI climbed back to regain a 62-60 lead with 8:32 left in the game, but then they went cold. They shot 5-for-14 with 3 turnovers the rest of the way while Missouri State went 8-for-12 from the floor and 11-for-11 from the free-throw line leading to a 28-12 run.
In all, Missouri State made all 17 of their second-half free-throw attempts and shot 58.6 percent from the floor in the second half. IUPUI committed just one more turnover than Missouri State in the first half, 6-5, but turned the ball over 10 times in the second half compared to just twice for Missouri State.
With Evan Hall out of the lineup Thursday night, IUPUI played just eight players. Aaron Brennan, Mason Archie and T.J. Henderson came off the bench and combined for just 21 minutes in the second half leaving the bulk of the minutes for the starters who just couldn’t keep up with Missouri State’s second-half scoring pace.
There’s been three clear issues in losses for IUPUI this season: turnovers, fouls, and too many 3-point shots. They’ve shot 16 or fewer 3-pointers in all three wins and shot 21 against Missouri State, but they hit 10 of them. The fouls and turnovers were another story though. Missouri State took advantage of 16 turnovers and outscored IUPUI 22-11 off the turnover. They also outscored IUPUI 23-10 from the free-throw line. The 45-21 difference in those areas was more than enough to offset IUPUI’s strong shooting performance.
IUPUI has just one day off before travelling to take on Creighton Saturday evening in Omaha.