by Michael Hadley
IUPUI women's basketball (4-3, 1-0) continued their incredible turnaround season Wednesday night, defeating North Dakota State (2-5, 0-1) in The Jungle by a final score of 49-39.
From the opening tip, the night seemed destined to be a low-scoring affair. The two sides found nothing but unkind metal and glass on their first few attempts before the Bison got the line at 16:56 for the games first point. The teams remained ice cold through the majority of the first half where IUPUI shot just 3-20 to begin.
NDSU struggled to pull away due in large part to their 15 turnover half. Freshman Nevana Markovic finally spurred the Jaguars, hitting a contested shot in the lane. Immediately following the final media timeout, sophomore guard Katie Comello went on a small 4-0 run to narrow the Bison lead to 17-14.
On the final possession of the half, Markovic hit a nifty jump shot against NDSU's 1-3-1 zone, setting the halftime score at 21-18.
The Bison led by as many as nine in the first half but couldn't hold on to the lead with senior sensation Abby Plucker on the bench in early foul trouble. The Pre-Season First Team All-Summit League selection and Lowe's Senior C.L.A.S.S. nominee was 2-5 from the floor, scoring six points and nabbing ten rebounds accompanied by seven turnovers in 28 minutes of play. IUPUI defensive wonder DeeDee Bellamy made sure Plucker couldn't get going for the Bison.
The first two possessions for IUPUI in the second half were a bit shaky with one turnover and a poorly taken shot in transition, but after that it was all Jaguars. Comello helped push IUPUI to their first lead at the 15:30 mark of the second half. NDSU would regain advantage following the first media timeout of the half, but Comello's three pointer to take the lead would seal the deal. She added a steal on the next possession, part of an 8-0 run for herself that was capped by a Kerah Nelson three pointer to force a Bison timeout with the score 36-27.
Through the remainder of the half, the offense would struggle but the Jaguar defense would hold up to the task. NDSU scored only 18 points in the second frame, turning the ball over 10 times and shooting only 29 percent.
Janna Eichelberger scored four points and had four rebounds in her first game back following a pre-season broken hand, and Dawn Luster added a rebound, two assists and four steals in her first game following her ankle injury at Purdue. Comello ended with 14 points and five assists, while Emily Phillips had five rebound and five assists. Nelson led all scorers with 16 points and eight rebounds, and Markovic ended teh game 5-9 for 11 points, four rebounds and two blocked shots. Comello and Bellamy each had three steals.
The win ties last year's win total (four) and the Jaguars hold a winning record for the first time since 2008-2009. IUPUI takes on South Dakota State Friday night in The Jungle at 7 p.m. local time. The game is free for IUPUI students with a valid JagTag. Follow the game live online at www.twitter.com/CampusCitizen.