IUPUI came up short for the fifth straight game, falling to Butler 58-50 Wednesday afternoon in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse.
After beginning the season with their first winning record since 2008, Austin Parkinson’s Jaguars have flopped on five straight outings, dating back to a 74-63 loss to the reigning Summit League Tournament champion South Dakota State.
Like many of their games this season, the Jaguars were able to keep the game in their favor through the first half. Forcing three turnovers in the first four minutes, IUPUI took a 9-5 lead into the first media timeout. Butler took their first lead around the 12-minute mark following a flurry of silly fouls in the Butler offensive half.
IUPUI pushed through the next ten minutes, stretching the lead to six at 23-17 following a Kerah Nelson turnaround jumper in the lane. But Butler answered right away, hitting a three pointer, forcing a Jaguar turnover and getting an easy layup, causing Jaguar head coach Austin Parkinson to call a timeout with his ladies clinging to a 23-22 lead.
Katie Comello hit three of four free throw attempts – her only points of the game – to give IUPUI a lead with just over one minute remaining but Haley Howard’s layup set the halftime score at 28-28.
The two teams traded buckets through the opening eight minutes of the second half until Butler’s Mandy McDivitt got open for a three pointer than gave the Bulldogs the first two-possession lead of the half.
"Obviously in close games, you've got to be able to pay attention to details and know switches and that kind of thing,” Parkinson said following the loss. “We gambled on a play on their best shooter and they buried a three and it ended up being a four-point lead.
"Four points seemed like about 10 points. After that, we unraveled a little bit at the offensive end and it was probably the difference in the game."
IUPUI would get as close as two points after Dawn Luster’s floater made it 50-48 with just over four minutes left. After Coach Parkinson called a timeout to set his defensive strategy, the Jaguars would go just 1-6 with three turnovers through the end of regulation.
Butler iced the game with six free throws in the last segment of the game.
Nelson led the way for IUPUI offensively, going 8-13 for 18 points and nine rebounds. Clara Mitchell had a career night with 13 points and nine rebounds, six of which were on the offensive glass. Comello and Nevena Markovic both struggled from the floor, combining for a 0-14 performance and three total points. Luster had ten points and five rebounds in her third start of the year.
“If you hold a team to 36 percent (field goal shooting) then you should be able to win a lot of games but the problem is our offense has really struggled. It’s hard to win games when you can’t hit shots.”
As a team, IUPUI turned the ball over 19 times but were able to assist 15 of 21 made baskets and out rebound Butler 39-36.
“We have a much better team than we had last year and they can really compete on the defensive end. This team has a difficulty taking things from the scouting report and implementing it in the game. That can be the difference between a win and a loss.”
IUPUI has a full week off before taking on Marygrove College on December 28 in The Jungle. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern.