by Kristin Haseley
|Photo by Rachel Hale|
On a night set aside to honor senior Janna Eichelberger, the IUPUI Jaguars knew it would take a special effort to beat the University of South Dakota Coyotes. The Jags were able to earn the victory, beating South Dakota by a score of 52-42. The Jaguars were lead by junior Kerah Nelson, who scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
The Jaguars went up against a South Dakota team that was riding an eight-game winning streak, lead by senior Amber Hegge who ranks first in the Summit League in rebounding and field goal percentage. IUPUI was able to limit Hegge to just five points and forced her to commit seven turnovers.
“I think she’s the best player in the league. She causes so many match-up problems. We worked all week in practice on trying to force her to pitch the ball and make someone else make some shots”, said IUPUI head coach Austin Parkinson about Hegge.
The Jags came out with a lack luster effort in the first half, shooting only 19% from the floor and scoring only 18 points. For as poorly as IUPUI’s first half was, South Dakota’s first half performance wasn’t much better. The Coyotes shot 28% from the floor and committed 13 turnovers, scoring only 20 first half points.
The Jags opened up the second half on a 14-5 run, catapulting them into the lead for good. Despite only scoring eight first half points, Nelson found her offensive groove and went for 13 second half points.
“We played an ugly first half, but I told them it was going to be ugly and not to get frustrated. We came out with a little bit more life in the second half and found a way to win the game”, said Parkinson.
The Coyotes came into the contest averaging 64.3 points per game, but the Lady Jags again put on an impressive defensive show, holding USD to just 42 points. Besides forcing 25 Coyote turnovers, the Jags also set a new season record with 16 steals, the most they’ve had in a single game. Sophomore Dawn Luster led the team with five steals while Emily Phillips added four more.
The win puts IUPUI at a 7-8 Summit League record, with a 12-15 overall mark. The Jaguars have also clinched a spot in the Summit League Tournament for the first time since the 2008-09 season. The IUPUI Lady Jags will attempt to even their Summit League record at 8-8 on Monday night, when they take on the UMKC Kangaroos at home in The Jungle. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.