INDIANAPOLIS - Despite a career night from junior guard Darell Combs, the Jaguars suffered a deflating 85-82 loss to South Dakota inside Indiana Farmers Coliseum on Thursday evening (Feb. 25). Combs netted a career-high 32 points, including hitting six treys, as IUPUI fell at home for just the second time this season.
South Dakota (14-16, 5-10 Summit) junior forward Tyler Flack scored a career-high 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting and senior guard Trey Norris added 17 points and six assists in the Coyotes win. Junior Matt O'Leary added 15 points in defeat and Marcellus Barksdale closed his penultimate home game with eight points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.
IUPUI (12-18, 8-7) trailed 78-69 with 2:24 left, but made a furious comeback before falling just short of yet another come-from-behind victory.
"I thought at times we played hard and played tough, but it just wasn't a complete effort," IUPUI Head Coach Jason Gardner said. "We did a good job of fighting back, but we didn't have that same mentality for the entire 40 minutes. We had to show we could get stops and get deflections and continue moving the ball offensively, but it wasn't there the whole game.
"We didn't get to as many 50-50 balls as we needed to and it just wasn't the full effort we needed."
IUPUI trailed 78-69 with 2:26 left when Norris buried a wing three as the shot clock expired, but the Jaguars launched a furious comeback from there forward. It began when Nick Osborne split a pair of free throws, allowing the defense to set the full court press. IUPUI promptly forced a turnover when Barksdale collected a steal with under two minutes to play. The Jags cashed in when O'Leary scored in close off a Barksdale find and moments later, the heady senior drew a charge to force another turnover. IUPUI cashed in again, this time when Combs was fouled and hit both freebies.
Combs then committed what appeared to be a disastrous personal foul, wrapping Norris up near midcourt when the shot clock was under 10 seconds with 1:21 left. However, Norris missed the frontend of a 1-and-1 and the Jags scored again, this time on a Combs drive to make it 78-76. However, Flack scored on USD's next trip and the Jaguars went empty on their next possession, essentially ending the comeback.
IUPUI was seemingly out of sync from the opening tip, trailing the majority of the first half before ultimately looking at a 38-33 deficit at the break. Freshman Evan Hall provided some life to start the second half and the Jags pulled even at 40 all when O'Leary dropped in a layup with 17:49 remaining. However, the Coyotes scored the game's next seven points and led the final 17-plus minutes of the game. The USD lead was 11 with six minutes left when Casey Kasperbauer stroked a midrange jumper and a microcosm of the night came moments later when Norris picked off a lackadaisical inbounds pass.
"We made some careless mistakes," Gardner said. "If you look at it, we had 20 assists and only 10 turnovers, but we made mistakes at critical times in the game."
USD converted IUPUI's 10 turnovers into 14 points while the Jags netted just nine points off 12 USD miscues. IUPUI shot just 46 percent from the field and 8-of-27 (29.6 percent) from three-point range while USD was an efficient 53 percent from the floor. USD also won the glass 37-34 and outscored the Jags 40-38 in the paint.
Combs became the first IUPUI player to top 30 points since Donovan Gibbs tallied 32 against Judson in January 2014 and it was his eighth game with at least 20 points this season. Pickett added eight points and three assists off the IUPUI bench while Archie closed with six points. The loss made it a series split between the Jags and Yotes this season with each collecting wins on the others' home floor.
The Jaguars will cap the regular season on Saturday afternoon (Feb. 27) when they host Fort Wayne inside Indiana Farmers Coliseum at 1:00 p.m.. IUPUI will honor the senior class of Archie and Barksdale immediately following the game. In addition, the contest will be seen on HTSN and ESPN3 as Greg Rakestraw (pxp), Bob Lovell (analyst) and Morgan Adcock (sidelines) call the action. Fans are urged to allow additional time as the Indiana State Fairgrounds is also hosting the Indianapolis Boat, Sport & Travel Show that afternoon. Additionally, those in attendance are asked to park north of the Coliseum for easiest access to the Coliseum
This article was originally published on February 25, 2016 at IUPUIJags.com, the Official Site of IUPUI Athletics.