Cleveland, OH – Down 12 with under eight minutes to go, IUPUI climbed back and took a 67-66 lead. They couldn’t hold on and had their three-game win streak snapped 70-67 to Cleveland State.
The Jaguars shot just 6-for-23 from long range, but Aaron Brennan remained hot. He’s gone 11-for-21 over the last four games from three-point range and hit 3-for-4 against Cleveland State. Brennan finished with 17 points and five rebounds. On the other end of the spectrum, IUPUI’s most prolific 3-point shooter this season, Ron Patterson, shot just 1-for-6 from long range and 4-for-13 overall to finish with nine points.
IUPUI’s biggest issue though wasn’t their shooting, although it could have been better. Their biggest issue was turnovers. They turned the ball over 21 times overall and 12 times in the second half. Cleveland State scored 21 points off IUPUI turnovers. After a close first half and back-and-forth start to the second, IUPUI had a 47-46 lead before a series of missteps nearly gave the game away.
After Elyjah Goss’s layup put IUPUI up one with 11:05 left, Kenny Carpenter hit a 3-pointer to put Cleveland State up 49-47. T.J. Henderson turned it over on the next possession giving Cleveland State a transition layup and four-point lead. IUPUI called a timeout, but Patterson turned the ball over on the inbound leading to another transition layup and a six-point deficit. IUPUI turned the ball over once more, for their straight possession, when Bobby Word stole the ball from Aaron Brennan. A little over two minutes after Goss’s layup, IUPUI had turned the ball over four times and saw their 47-46 lead turn into a 59-47 deficit.
It wasn’t over yet though, and IUPUI fought back into the game. After a timeout with 55 seconds left and Cleveland State up 66-63, Jaylen Minnett hit a 3-pointer and drew a foul for a four-point play. IUPUI led 67-66 with 44 seconds left. Cleveland State scored on their end to retake the lead and then stole the ball from Nick Rogers with five seconds left to seal the game.
Rogers has been good this season taking care of the ball. Coming into Thursday night’s game, he’d only turned the ball over more than three times on two occasions and not since December 10. He also had a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio for the season. Against Cleveland State though, he had his worst night with just four assists and a season-high five turnovers, including the one that sealed the game.
Despite the close finish, the loss raises questions about IUPUI’s road mentality. Coming off three straight wins and entering the game as the favorite, IUPUI couldn’t get it done. Even with a lead in the final minute, it wasn’t enough. IUPUI is just 1-10 on the road this season and could easily be 0-11 had Green Bay completed their late rally on January 2. IUPUI still has four straight road games to go to prove that playing on the road isn’t a hurdle they can’t get over.