Indianapolis, IN – Big second halves have been IUPUI’s strength since Summit League play started, so it seemed they were in good position for their fourth conference win with a three-point lead at the break. But it was Oral Roberts who came out guns blazing. They hit five 3-pointers in the first six minutes of the second half to turn a deficit into a double-figure lead and cruised the rest of the way.
“They were the hungrier basketball team tonight and they came in and took it to us,” IUPUI Head Coach Jason Gardner said. “We didn’t keep them off the offensive glass and that’s where the game was won. We gave them way too many second chances and they capitalized on them. That’s an effort thing and we’re not good enough to not give 100 percent effort all the time.
Jordan Pickett had one of his best games of the season leading IUPUI with 15 points and three steals. Darell Combs and Marcellus Barksdale each scored 13 and Nick Osborne had 10 on just five shots to go with six rebounds.
IUPUI found themselves down quickly, scoring just four points in the first five minutes, but responded with a 17-2 run to take a 21-12 lead with 7:35 left in the first half. Oral Roberts retook the lead with under a minute to go, but Pickett hit back-to-back shots to give IUPUI a 35-32 lead at the break.
IUPUI scored over 40 points and outscored each of their last two opponents in the second half and they hadn’t lost a game at home all season. Couple that with their five days rest and big run in the first half and it seemed like IUPUI would control things once again in the second. It wasn’t meant to be though.
Oral Roberts scored on nine of their first 11 possessions including hitting all five of their 3-point attempts. It took Oral Roberts nearly 16 minutes to score their first 23 points, but just six to score 23 in the second half. The 23-8 run erased IUPUI’s lead and put them in a double-figure hole.
After a dunk by Oral Roberts with 7:13 to go in the game, IUPUI still trailed 66-55. They got back-to-back turnovers though and had the lead down to seven points with 6:01 left. Pickett missed a jumper on the next possession, but Mason Archie got the offensive rebound, drew a foul and hit both free throws to pull within five points, 66-61. They couldn’t do any more than that though and went scoreless for nearly three minutes as Oral Roberts built their lead back up to 10 points, 71-61 with 2:42 to go. Barksdale hit a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left to get within six points, but it was far too late despite IUPUI fouling till the clock hit zero.
This was IUPUI’s worst second-half performance in conference play and one of their worst of the season. Oral Roberts scored 48 points on 59.1 percent shooting including 6-for-9 shooting from 3-point range. IUPUI only had five turnovers and got to the line 16 times, but shot just 11-for-27 and had only two assists.
IUPUI has struggled this season when shooting too much from outside, but despite finishing just 6-for-20 from 3-point range, they still dominated the paint outscoring Oral Roberts 28-16. Osborne, Matt O’Leary, Evan Hall and Aaron Brennan, IUPUI’s four forwards, combined to shoot 9-for-15. Perhaps a greater emphasis on getting the ball inside would have given IUPUI enough of a boost to maintain a perfect home record.