Indianapolis, IN – That IUPUI had a tough start to the season would be putting it mildly. They’ve turned it around though and taken care of business on their first home stand of the season. Their 81-66 win over Detroit Mercy capped off three straight wins during their four-game home stand and pushed them into third place in the Horizon League standings.
Three-point shooting has been a major factor during IUPUI’s win streak. After taking an early 4-2 lead, Aaron Brennan hit a triple to go up 7-2 and D.J. McCall followed it up with another triple two minutes later to go up 10-5. Brennan and McCall combined to shoot 6-for-7 from long range and finished with 15 and 13 points respectively. IUPUI shot 48 percent from three-point range on the game, only bested this season by their 56-percent effort two games ago against Milwaukee.
Coupled with their strong outside shooting, IUPUI used a stifling first-half defense to build a 19-point halftime advantage. The Titans shot just 39 percent in the half and IUPUI forced 12 turnovers.
McCall hit another 3-pointer to open up the second half and give IUPUI a 22-point advantage, but things started to fall apart later in the second half.
Jaylen Minnett hit a 3-pointer to push the lead to 21 after Detroit Mercy finally cracked the 20-point threshold. Just like against UIC when Minnett hit a 3-pointer with 10 minutes to go, the Jaguars went cold. Jermaine Jackson Jr. answered with a 3-pointer to get back to 18 points, 67-49. Two minutes later, he hit another 3-pointer to cut the IUPUI lead to 11. After a turnover from Brennan, Jackson Jr. hit a third 3-pointer to get the Titans within 10 for the first time since the first half. Brennan committed an offensive foul on the other end and Josh McFolley hit a 3-pointer to get within five, 67-62.
In a little over three minutes, Detroit Mercy hit four 3-pointers and cut a 21-point deficit to five. 4:22 remained on the clock.
Unlike the loss to UIC, IUPUI rebounded this time. After a T.V. timeout, Brennan drew a foul and knocked down both free throws. The Jaguars got a couple of stops and Ron Patterson scored to go back up nine with 2:46 left. In the final two minutes, the Jaguars scored eight straight points to crush any chance of a comeback.
It’s concerning that IUPUI so regularly has lengthy offensive and defensive lapses. The good news though is that in both of the last two games, IUPUI built an early advantage and despite a rally they were able to close.
With IUPUI’s rugged start to the season out of the way and a nice 3-1 rebound at home, they’re in position to push for a high seed in the Horizon League. Despite their recent home success though, they still have to prove they’re capable of winning on the road. They lost nine straight road games to start the season before winning at Green Bay two weeks ago. They’ll have five straight road games before finishing the season with five of six at home.