IUPUI never trailed in a 66-55 win over Fort Wayne Saturday at The Jungle to cap the regular season and Summit League play.
The women’s basketball team celebrated the senior careers of Caitlyn Tolen, Kelsi Byrd and Mikale Rogers. All three were in the starting lineup and made contributions in the victory.
“They may go down as the winningest group we’ve ever had at IUPUI and that’s pretty neat,” Jags coach Austin Parkinson said.
Byrd fed Rogers for an easy bucket on the Jag’s opening possession and they never looked back. Jenna Gunn nailed a 3-pointer with 2:35 remaining in the first period to push the lead up to 12-6 and IUPUI (22-7, 12-4) outscored the Mastodons 15-10 over the first 10 minutes.
After Fort Wayne (5-24, 2-14) pulled within a point at 15-14, a Byrd 3-pointer with 8:27 left in the first half started a 10-0 for the Jag’s. Gunn completed a 3-point play and Byrd added another bucket during the scoring spree.
In her last home game as a Jag, Byrd led the way with eight first-half points, while pushing IUPUI ahead 36-21 at the break.
“My shot feels a lot better lately, and my teammates are getting me the ball,” she said.
Junior Danielle Lawrence went to work in the third quarter, scoring six straight points and eight total throughout the 10-minute period, allowing the Jag’s to build a 17-point advantage over the Mastodons.
Fort Wayne wasn’t going away quietly though. The last-place team in the Summit League will not participate in the league tournament, meaning Saturday was their last game of the 2016-17 campaign.
The Mastodons opened the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run, cutting the lead to six, but the Jag’s prevailed like they have all season long.
“I thought we played good defense for three quarters and then in the fourth quarter we just weren’t ourselves,” Parkinson said. “But the positive is a really good team is able to answer the bell and we did. The only thing that matters is we got the win.”
Rogers knocked down a pair of free throws and converted a three-point play with 2:29 to go, pushing the Jag’s back ahead by 10 and putting the game on ice.
“Mikale (Rogers) is going to go down as one of the best post players to ever play here,” Parkinson said about his senior forward.
Lawrence led the Jag’s with 19, while Rogers added 15, and Byrd and Gunn chipped in eight.
DeJour Young and Peyton Fallis led the way for the Mastodons with 12 points each.
IUPUI has won five in a row and 11 of it’s last 12 and will be the No. 2 seed in the Summit League tournament, which starts Saturday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
“Anybody can win this tournament, we are excited about it and excited about getting to Sioux Falls,” Parkinson said.