IUPUI’s second-half run hurts men’s basketball team

Eastern+guard+Josiah+Wallace+brings+the+ball+upcourt+in+the+Panthers%27+exhibition+win+against+Eureka+on+Nov.+2.+Eastern+won+the+game+79-44.

JJ Bullock

Eastern guard Josiah Wallace brings the ball upcourt in the Panthers' exhibition win against Eureka on Nov. 2. Eastern won the game 79-44.

Dillan Schorfheide, Assistant Sports Editor

For the second straight game, a scoring run by Eastern’s opponent in the opening minutes of the second half is what put the men’s basketball team far enough behind to finish with a loss.

Eastern lost to IUPUI Saturday, 71-65, after opening the second half at the receiving end of a 13-5 Jaguar run in the first 6 1/2 minutes of the second half.

The Panthers had a similar experience against Texas in the season opener Tuesday, when the Longhorns opened the second half with a 14-6 in the first 5:15 of the half.

Just as with Tuesday’s game, IUPUI’s run put the game just a bit too far ahead for Eastern to make a complete comeback.

Also similarly to Texas, Eastern was only a few points behind IUPUI when the first half ended (35-31).

“We had a very sporadic game defensively,” head coach Jay Spoonhour said. “We turned the ball over to start the second half and gave them run outs.”

Mack Smith hit a three pointer to open the second half for both teams, and after 13 straight Jaguar points, Rade Kukobat, who again leads Eastern in scoring with 18 points, stopped the bleeding with a layup to make the score 48-36.

For the rest of the second half, Eastern played catch up, and did so pretty well.

 Shareef Smith and Ben Harvey were the catalysts behind the comeback and the driving force to bring the game to within a few baskets for Eastern.

Over the next four minutes, IUPUI extended its score to 53, while Harvey and Smith scored the next 12 points by themselves, to bring Eastern within five. Harvey had five of the points in the run, and Smith had the other seven, including one three.

“I really liked the way Shareef attacked them,” Spoonhour said. “IUPUI had some defensive schemes that we hadn’t seen, and Shareef figured it out pretty well.”

Smith finished the game as the second-leading scorer for Eastern with 13 points, and Harvey was the third of five Panthers with double-digit scoring Saturday with 10 points.

After the run Eastern made, the largest lead IUPUI got was 11 points, while Eastern did not retake the lead, but the Panthers kept chipping away at the lead and got within two points with 1:21 left.

Josiah Wallace made two free throws off a fast-break foul to make the score 64-62 in favor of IUPUI. Nearly 50 seconds later, Nick Rogers made two free throws for the Jaguars to extend their lead to four over Eastern. Then Kukobat added a free throw for Eastern.

With 21 seconds left, Rogers added another free throw to counter Kukobat’s and to make IUPUI’s lead 67-63.

Camron Justice and Rogers added one more free throw each, which almost surely solidified the game for the Jaguars with three seconds left and a 69-63 lead. 

Kukobat made a layup in the rest of the garbage time, and Jaylen Minnett added two free throws with a second left in the game.

IUPUI finished the game with 20/29 free throws made, which, even though it was fewer than Eastern’s 21/26, was something Spoonhour said was a problem for Eastern.

“Fouled them far too many times,” he said. “Put them on the line.”

Overall, Eastern shot almost three percent worse than IUPUI (38.6 percent to the Panthers’ 35.8), but Eastern shot better for three pointers, 35.3 percent to IUPUI’s 28 percent.

Wallace and Mack Smith were the other two double-digit scorers for Eastern, each with 12 points. Mack Smith also led Eastern with eight rebounds.

The Panthers also had 11 assists as a team, six better than their total against Texas. 

Terrell Lewis also saw his first action on the court since getting injured early last year, logging seven minutes, attempting and missing one three pointer, committing three turnovers and getting one assist.

Dillan Schorfheide can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]