With the NCAA Tournament berth in sight, the IUPUI Jaguars put up a fight against number 1 seed, the Western Illinois Leathernecks. Though the Jags had beat the Leathernecks in regular season play twice, that was not the outcome this time. Taking it to overtime, the Jaguars let it slip away, losing the Summit League Championship 69-77.
Though the Jaguars lead most of the first quarter, turnovers were given up early. 3-pointers from Sydney Hall made up for the lack of shooting opportunity with two baskets made from behind the arc and made the a jumper just before the buzzer to end the first quarter, tying the game 17-17.
The Jaguars began to rack up fouls as Danielle Lawrence tallied two and sat out for a significant portion of the remaining half. By halftime, the Jaguars got their act together, and the game was much more back and forth. Only four turnovers were made in the second quarter as opposed to the seven in the first. Mikale Rogers had a jumper and a big block for the Jaguars and Kelsi Byrd hit a three to end the half with the Jaguars up 32-30.
Coming back from the break, the Jaguars couldn’t keep up and left many opportunities for Summit League Player of the Year, Emily Clemens who counted 20 points for the game. It also didn’t help that IUPUI’s top defender, Rogers, was in foul trouble and was taken out of the game for a period of time. The Jaguars were down by four at the end of the third, and still allowed the Leathernecks to control the game.
A ray of hope was finally shining through in the fourth as the Jaguars took a brief lead and the back and forth began again. About halfway through the quarter both Lawrence and Hall fouled out of the game. The Jags were down 57-60 at that point and with only less than a minute left to play. Senior Caitlyn Tolen made a clutch 3-pointer quickly after the throw-in at half court to keep IUPUI in the game.
The end of game fouling began and the Jaguars caught a big break when Western Illinois’ Clemens missed both free throws. The Leatherbacks then sent Jaguar Freshman Holly Hoopingarner to the line, after being fouled. She made both free throws bringing IUPUI to take the lead 62-61. Sophomore Allex Brown got a steal and was taken to the line. Both free throws were made and the Jags’ lead was a full three at 64-61. With only 3.2 seconds remaining it was up to the defense to keep the Leathernecks from making the long shot.
After a quick throw in from Western Illinois side, the Leathernecks scored a buzzer beater three to tie the game. The game was going to overtime, but the Jaguars’ energy was low. Only three points were scored by IUPUI in those bonus five minutes and the Leathernecks secured their win with an 8 point lead.
Hall lead the team in scoring with 18 points, scoring 4-6 from three. Junior Jenna Gunn had 16 points and Tolen contributed 10. Rogers ended the game 3 points and 14 rebounds.
The Lady Jags still have hope for postseason play. Their impressive record makes them a likely candidate for the NIT tournament and are not counted out for the big NCAA tournament yet. The decision on what is next for them will be presented March 13. Keep following The Campus Citizen for updates.