Saturday night, the IUPUI men’s basketball team went to Sioux Falls South Dakota, where they faced the North Dakota State Bison. The Jaguars won their first tournament game in six years, putting together a gutsy, gritty, and hard fought performance proving that they deserved to move on in the tournament.
IUPUI having not won a tournament game in six years and came in at the number seven seed, while North Dakota State was ranked number two was a daunting task, and no doubt the Jaguars were the underdogs. This didn’t seem to bother them one bit as they came out and played like they knew they were going to be moving on.
The first half, IUPUI took every blow North Dakota State could deliver, standing up and delivering blows of their own to keep it close through halftime. IUPUI led by as many as six, but North Dakota State kept making runs to keep themselves in it. Going into the half IUPUI held a slight edge over the Bison and took a 37-33 lead into halftime.
The second half was the real difference maker for this Jaguars team, outscoring the Bison 39-24 in the second half, scoring 15 points more than their opponent. Aaron Brennan, the 6-6 junior from Noblesville kept IUPUI ahead early and took over the game scoring 12 of his 18 points in the second half. Posting a double-double, for the game, Brennen had 18 points and 11 rebounds, shooting 6/12 from the field, and going 4/5 from the free throw line.
Nothing was going to stop the jaguars from advancing. IUPUI held North Dakota to a 37.3% field goal percentage, playing stifling defense throughout the game. The jaguars complimented their outstanding defensive play with just as impressive offensive play, shooting a blazing 50% from the field.
Both teams showed off their three point shooting with IUPUI shooting 36% and North Dakota State posting a 36.8% with teams evenly matched in this category. IUPUI turned the ball over over nine times to North Dakota States 12 times, while also out rebounding the Bison 37-30.
While many thought of them as the underdogs, they proved themselves by taking down the #2 seeded Bison 76-57, that they are anything but. If they can put on this type of performance when they play Omaha, they have a great chance of advancing to the Summit League Championship. As the broadcasters of Saturdays game said, “IUPUI may be one of the most dangerous teams in this tournament, and no team should be excited to play them.”
IUPUI plays Omaha tonight, March 6 at 9:30 p.m. in the Semifinals of the Summit League Tournament on ESPN 3.