Indianapolis, IN – It was only the Summit League home opener, but IUPUI played like it was the Summit League Championship Thursday night against South Dakota State. Thanks to a 22-5 run late in the second half, IUPUI came away with the 74-67 win and moved to 2-1 in the Summit League.
Darell Combs scored a team-high 18 points and got three steals. Jordan Pickett scored 14 including a perfect 6-for-6 mark from the line and Nick Osborne scored 11 points with five rebounds. Marcellus Barksdale’s number wasn’t called much, but he still scored eight points and filled the rest of the stat sheet with six rebounds, two assists, three blocks and two steals.
“It was a great win, a team win across the board, top to bottom, especially in that second half,” Barksdale said. “We’ve kind of struggled in the second halves, especially defensively. Tonight we wanted to lock in, send a statement. We want to protect our home court.”
Mike Daum led South Dakota State with 23 points on 9-for-11 shooting and six rebounds. George Marshall and Deondre Parks each scored 15 points for the Jackrabbits.
Coming into Thursday night’s game, all three of South Dakota State’s losses had come on the road when the team shot under 50 percent and was out shot at the free-throw line. Despite a quick 7-0 lead for South Dakota State, IUPUI finished the first half strong and made sure they met those benchmarks. Each team shot 11-for-26 in the first half, but IUPUI was 6-for-6 from the line while South Dakota State shot just 3-for-5.
The second half started similarly with South Dakota State using a 9-2 run to take a 37-32 lead. After losing the last 11 times to South Dakota State, it started to feel like this would make it 12. IUPUI stuck to the plan of getting to the line and limiting South Dakota State’s opportunities on offense though and tied the game at 37 two minutes later.
The game stayed close until around the 12-minute mark. Mike Daum hit a 3-pointer for South Dakota State to go up 47-43 with 12:08 left, but Mason Archie answered with a 3-pointer of his own on the next possession. After rebounding a missed shot on the other end, Pickett came back with a layup in transition for a 48-47 lead. Deondre Parks took the lead back 18 seconds later, but it would be the last time for South Dakota State.
Combs scored with 8:31 to go and completed the 3-point play and Osborne hit a 3-pointer the next time down for a 54-49 lead. Two minutes later, Combs hit a 3-pointer and Barksdale followed it up with a jumper for a 59-50 lead. South Dakota State hit a pair of free throws, but then it was Evan Hall’s turn. Hall hit a jumper, grabbed the rebound after a miss on the other end, got fouled and hit both free throws for a 63-52 lead. South Dakota State missed a 3-pointer on the next possession and got the offensive rebound, but Archie poked the ball away and got fouled in transition. He made both free throws for a 65-62 lead.
The 22-5 run spanned 8:30 and IUPUI held South Dakota State to 1-for-8 shooting including 0-for-7 from 3-point range during the stretch.
South Dakota State got the lead down to seven points with 24 seconds to go and fouled Pickett on the inbound, but he knocked down both free throws to seal the game.
Everything that IUPUI has done well in their wins this season they did again against South Dakota State. They shot 5-for-12 from the 3-point line, 21-for-25 from the free-throw line, outscored South Dakota State 30-24 in the paint and held South Dakota State to 41 percent shooting for the game. But the most encouraging thing was IUPUI’s intensity throughout the game. It was easy to tell that this game meant more than others this season. Seniors Archie and Barksdale had never beaten South Dakota State and after a close loss to Omaha five days previously, it wasn’t difficult to imagine that IUPUI could have been perfect in conference to this point. It showed when Barksdale chased down a fast break from behind to block a layup and when Archie relentlessly hounded his man before getting the steal and driving to the rim to draw a foul during their big run.
“That’s just effort right there,” Barksdale said. “I haven’t had a block like that in a while. My legs are kind of old, but still good to get out there and put (the ball) on the glass.”
With this hurdle out of the way, IUPUI will move on to face Western Illinois (7-6, 0-2) on the road Saturday afternoon.