INDIANAPOLIS, In. – For the second straight game IUPUI got off to a slow start. After falling behind by 11 points in the first four minutes, the IUPUI defense regained their composure. They allowed the Leathernecks to shoot just 39 percent the rest of the way and earned their first Summit League win this season, 89-71.
Darell Combs stayed hot and tied his season-high of 28 points on 11-for-18 shooting. Matt O’Leary scored 20 points and came up one rebound short of a double-double for the fourth time this season. Kellon Thomas added 15 points, his season high.
The duo of Garret Covington and Mike Miklusak have combined to average 35 points per game this season, over half of Western Illinois‘s points. They exceed that number scoring 45 combined points against the Jaguars, but Western Illinois got little else from their team.
After IUPUI fell behind 16-5, they stepped up on both sides of the ball. The defense held Western Illinois scoreless for almost four minutes allowing IUPUI to cut the deficit to two points. Combs added seven points during the 9-0 run. Western Illinois held on for a few minutes, but a 6-0 run from IUPUI gave them the lead for good and put them up 30-27.
Early in the second half IUPUI took a 10-point lead on a 3-pointer from O’Leary. Western Illinois briefly threatened with a 10-2 run to pull within two points, but IUPUI answered back with a 10-2 run of their own to take a 64-54 lead. The Leathernecks never got within eight points after that.
With the win, IUPUI is now 1-0 in Summit League play, still undefeated at home and has won four of their last five games overall. They’ve also won each of those games by at least 18 points. They’re just a half game back of first-place North Dakota State in the Summit League standings and that’s by virtue of playing one less game. The Jaguars will now have four days off before travelling to play North Dakota State on January 5.