Lady Jaguars Prevail in Clash of Conference Powers

The IUPUI Lady jaguars avenged their loss to the South Dakota Coyotes earlier this season with a 63-42 win at home. Entering the game, South Dakota was No. 1 in the conference and IUPUI was fourth. With the win, IUPUI has moved into a tie for second place. The Lady Jaguars have won ten of their last 11 games and are hitting their stride at the right time.

The game started as it usually does for IUPUI. Senior center Mikale Rogers banked in a post shot to get the momentum running. Immediately following, the Lady Jags stole the ball and scored the easy layup. For the majority of the first half, the two teams traded scores. If South Dakota hit a three, IUPUI would answer right back with a three of their own.

South Dakota was obviously frustrated by an outstanding defensive effort from the Lady Jags. Every pass was challenged, and every ballhandler was pressured. The tenacious effort resulted in a myriad offensive fouls and turnovers from the Coyotes. Just as South Dakota’s offense began to falter, IUPUI’s picked up the pace.

Senior guard Kelsi Byrd drained three 3-pointers in the span of two minutes to give the Lady Jags some momentum, which forced a South Dakota timeout. The Jaguars led 27-14 with the half about 4 minutes away. Whatever South Dakota’s coach told her players in their huddle, it worked. The Coyotes came out inspired, and managed to cut the deficit to 8. IUPUI entered the locker room with a 31-23 lead, but a perilous lack of momentum.

South Dakota maintained that momentum in the second half. They started the half hot with a 7-2 run to narrow the score to 33-30 in favor of the Lady Jags. Now it was IUPUI’s turn to call a timeout and figure things out. Coach Parkinson chose to lean on his senior center, and Rogers answered. She connected on two consecutive post tries and swung the momentum back in favor of IUPUI.

“Getting her the ball inside is important,” said Parkinson. “We had to get her head up because she struggled a little bit in the first half. It was good to see that.”

Photo: Ryan Gregory

Photo: Ryan Gregory

From that point on, junior Jenna Gunn took over the offensive load. Primarily a post player, she swished a 3-pointer from the corner, followed by a transition layup. Gunn finished the game with 15 points, the team high for the evening.

The combination of the momentum swing and the offensive surge from Gunn helped IUPUI build a 14-point lead heading into the final quarter. From that point on, it was cruise control for the Lady Jags. IUPUI locked down their defense, suffocating both the ballhandlers and all hopes of a comeback. On offense, only the wisest of shots were launched, and they oftentimes went in. IUPUI walked away with 63-42 win and a gargantuan boost to their confidence.

“It feels really good,” Gunn said on how it felt to topple the conference leader. “I think we set ourselves up well to get a good seed in the tournament and that was always our plan.”

Other contributors from the evening were Rogers, Byrd, and Danielle Lawrence, all of whom scored 11 points. Allex Brown led the way rebounding with 9.

The Lady Jags play their last regular season game of the season against Fort Wayne on Feb. 25th. The Mastodons enter the game with a 5-23 overall record, 2-13 in conference. The Lady Jaguars hope to extend their winning streak to five and solidify themselves as a threat in the Summit League tournament.