INDIANAPOLIS, In. – For the third game in-a-row, IUPUI was in position late to come away with the win, but for the third time they came up short. This time they gave up a 17-3 run after leading by five with under 10 minutes left. IUPUI couldn’t get their shots to fall in the final minutes and Omaha closed out the game with a 6-2 run to win 79-71.
Evan Hall had a career game with 21 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, all career highs. Hall’s second career double-double was overshadowed by the rest of the team’s ineffectiveness on the offensive end. Outside of Hall, the Jaguars shot just 20-for-60. Matt O’Leary, Kellon Thomas and Darell Combs all finished in double figures, but Ron Patterson was the biggest difference maker when IUPUI needed to snap out of bad stretches in both the first and second halves. He finished with 10 points, two rebounds, four assists and three steals.
After making both of their first two shots, IUPUI went ice cold from the field. They made just two of their next 15 shots and went scoreless for over five minutes. During the subsequent 13-4 run for IUPUI, Patterson found Thomas for a three-point basket and stole the ball on consecutive possessions. Despite the defensive spark that led to several easy opportunities on the offensive end, IUPUI fell back into the same rhythm they started. By the end of the half, they trailed 40-32.
IUPUI made another run early in the second half. O’Leary scored four straight points to cut the deficit to two and after Omaha split a pair of free throws, Patterson hit back-to-back 3-pointers. 30 seconds later, he got his third steal and converted it into a transition layup for Thomas putting IUPUI up 50-47. Patterson missed a 3-pointer a few minutes later, but Hall got the offensive board, laid it in and drew the foul. After the free throw, IUPUI led 57-52.
Just like they did against South Dakota though, IUPUI stopped defending and couldn’t hit a shot. Over the next six minutes IUPUI shot 1-for-6 from the floor, 2-for-5 from the line and committed five turnovers while falling into a 69-60 hole. IUPUI fought back a little, but each time Omaha came up with the answer.
There was a sequence in the middle of the second half that summed up tonight’s game for IUPUI pretty well; Omaha did a good job swinging the ball from side to side, penetrating the lane and dishing out to find an open man. IUPUI rotated well though and defended the 3-point line ultimately forcing a turnover by drawing a charge. The play took place during the run to retake the lead after falling behind by 10 late in the first half. They did everything right, but just a few possessions later it came undone and IUPUI allowed back-to-back open 3-point looks. Omaha made both of them.
IUPUI played great on both ends during portions of the game, but it was an incomplete effort. The same incomplete effort cost them their last game at South Dakota. IUPUI was in a position to win each of their last three games and sit alone at the top of the Summit League standings with a 4-0 record, but now are just 1-3 and a half-game ahead of Oral Roberts for last place.