Ashwaubenon, WI. – The upset and IUPUI’s first road win of the season almost came undone in the final minutes. A couple of turnovers and some missed free throws fueled a late rally from the Phoenix. But a foul gifted to Aaron Brennan and a lapse in defense allowing T.J. Henderson an uncontested layup sealed the game for IUPUI, 67-63.
The story all year has been IUPUI’s shortcomings on both ends, and on the offensive end nothing changed. Henderson finished with 13 points, including the clinching layup, on an efficient 5-for-7 shooting. Brennan also had an efficient night with 11 points on five shots, but the rest of the team shot just 35 percent.
On the other end though, IUPUI had their finest defensive performance since November. They held Green Bay to 39 percent shooting including 1-for-17 from long range. They limited Green Bay to a season-best five offensive rebounds and they forced 15 turnovers and blocked four shots.
Khalil Small and P.J. Pipes combined for 33 points, but much of that came at the line. IUPUI committed a season-high 26 fouls that led to 33 trips to the line for the Phoenix.
Green Bay led nearly the entire first half after starting the game with a 6-0 run. They pushed the lead to eight points on several occasions, but IUPUI never let it get to double-figures. They clawed back and tied the game just before the half on a three-point basket from Jaylen Minnett. On their first possession out of the break, Brennan scored to give IUPUI their first lead and cap off a 12-3 run spanning back to the 2:16 mark of the first half. After an exchange of baskets, IUPUI retook the lead for good.
A 6-0 run with just over seven minutes left in the game gave IUPUI a game-high 57-46 lead, but six straight free throws brought the lead back down to five with under five minutes to go.
With 1:55 left, Nick Rogers split a pair of free throws to put IUPUI up eight, 61-53. Then things got tight. Small stole the ball from Brennan leading to a foul in transition and two free throws for the Phoenix. After an IUPUI timeout, Small stole the ball again which led to a jumper from David Jesperson with 1:04 left. With the lead down to four, D.J. McCall drew a foul, but could only split the pair. On the following possession with IUPUI up five, Sandy Cohen found Pipes right under the basket for a layup. Pipes got fouled on the shot and hit the free throw cutting the lead to two.
IUPUI caught their first break after the inbound on a pass to Brennan. Hunter Christ knocked the ball away to a teammate for what likely would have been an open game-tying layup, but was called for a foul. Brennan hit both free throws to go back up four. After each team split a pair of free throws, Green Bay had the ball with 17 seconds left. Pipes cut into the lane for a quick layup cutting the lead back to two. Then, with 10 seconds left, IUPUI caught their second break. Green Bay lost track of Henderson who leaked out to the other end of the court unchecked. McCall found him on the inbound and Henderson scored an easy layup with six seconds left to put the game away.
At a quick glance, this wasn’t a major upset or a hugely important win for the Jaguars. But this was a first for this team in several regards. It was the first road win of the season, in a season where they’ve played 10 of 14 games on the road. It was their first conference win of the season in the first season in the Horizon League and after dropping their first two conference games. And it also was IUPUI’s first upset of the season. Granted, they were only 2.5-point underdogs, but they failed to get an upset in their first eight tries.
Not only did they win their first road game, conference game and game as underdog, but they did it with an imperfect game. They shot just 42 percent and under 50 percent from the free-throw line. They committed a season-high 26 fouls and allowed season highs in free throws made (26) and attempted (33).
Again, at quick glance, this win might not look like much. But it gives the Jaguars an enormous confidence boost going into a very important four-game home stand. They’ll have just a day off before beginning the home stand with Illinois-Chicago on Thursday.