by Candis Cunningham
Alex Young has been named IUPUI’s Male Athlete of the Month for the 5-3 record he lead the Jags to in December. However, even his 25 points couldn’t get IUPUI over the hump Thursday night against IPFW losing 72-67.
IPFW (9-6, 3-3) was the first road game for IUPUI (8-9, 2-3) in almost a month and the Jags knew after winning six in a row what they needed to do to continue the winning streak.
"When you're not making shots, you panic and you stress out a little bit and you begin to force things," IUPUI head coach Todd Howard said. "I thought when we executed and shared the ball, I thought we were playing at a high level like we have been.
"We knew going on the road, what that entails and it always involves the extra pass and getting patient in the offense. I can't really fault our effort."
Except IPFW put up more effort.
From the beginning, the Jags struggled on shooting finishing just 33.3 percent from the floor at the half, while the Mastadons finished at 53.6 percent. Lyonell Gaines pushed IUPUI to a brief 7-6 lead, but was quickly overturned by a six point surge led by Isaiah McCray. The scoring was low in the half and the Jags tied the game at 21 with backup point guard Jordan Shanklin’s steal and fast break layup. The Dons responded with a 12-1 run to close the half, 37-27.
Marlo Hines tallied 14 for IPFW and was at his peak during the run until Jags’ Ian Chiles added a quick five to lighten the damage before the half. Chiles finished with 13 points.
The second half started off on a struggle. The Dons scored first to take the lead to 12, but three freshmen cut IUPUI’s deficit to three points with 8:23 remaining. Marcellus Barksdale, Gaines and Shanklin powered the run, taking the score to 51-48.
"Their energy was good. They moved the ball. We got a lot of touches, a lot of passes and a lot of ball reversals," Howard said of his freshmen. "They just really played live. They were fresh and really played live. For three freshmen to go on the road for their first conference game, they answered the bell."
Barksdale’s three point play capped the run, but IPFW followed again with another run, 8-0, within two minutes.
Mitchell Patton finished off a three point play to try and keep the Jags in the game, but a baseline corner three from Michael Kibiloski killed all hopes of a comeback. The Dons broke IUPUI’s full court press and they led to their own fate by missing three open looks at treys in the last 3:38 as well as a pair of free throws. The missed shots could’ve cut the Jags deficit to three or four points in the final minutes. The Dons may have struggled all night from the line, but hit six of eight to close the game. They outscored the Jags 17-11 at the line.
Senior Stephen Thomas finished with 10 points and Patton finished with seven.
The loss dropped IUPUI to 10-3 in the Division I era against IPFW.
IUPUI finishes its conference road trip in Michigan on Saturday night as they face Oakland at 6 p.m., following the women’s 3:30 p.m. tip off.