If you’ve been following this IUPUI program for the last three weeks or so, you could feel it building. The growth has been visible. The strides, significant. It truly felt like a conference win was just a matter of time.
The IUPUI Jaguars proved the pundits and the prognosticators correct Saturday, defeating Horizon League foe Green Bay 68-53 at Indiana Farmer’s Coliseum.
IUPUI controlled most of the game and never trailed after the 11:08 mark of the first half. The Jaguar lead extended to double-figures in the second half and in the end the good guys prevailed going away.
The win snaps an 11-game losing streak overall and a 17-game skid in Horizon League play. IUPUI’s last League win came at Robert Morris on February 17th of last year.
Asked what this win means to him, IUPUI Head Coach Matt Crenshaw told HoriZone Roundtable,
“These guys deserve this win. We coaches see all the work they have been putting in – to see it pay off is everything. They are trusting the process and growing together.”
Vincent Brady II led IUPUI with 16 points, including 2 of 5 from 3-point range. Brady also had a highlight reel tomahawk slam that made the rounds nationally on social media Saturday afternoon.
DJ Jackson added 16 points and 6 rebounds for the Jags and continues to cement his place in the lineup as a dependable scorer.
Chris Osten scored 12 while Jlynn Counter contributed 8 points and 9 assists toward the Jaguar victory.
IUPUI is getting healthy for the first time in a couple months and Crenshaw knows that is helping the Jaguar cause.
“It starts with our team getting healthy. This is the first time since November that we have had 8 out of our top 10 playing together,” said Crenshaw.
Freshman Amhad Jarrard joined the fray Saturday for the first time since January 12th (concussion). Jarrard grabbed 5 rebounds, dished out 2 assists, and scored 1 in 15 minutes of action.
Jlynn Counter, Chris Osten, John Egbuta and Armon Jarrard have all missed games for the Jags at one point or another since November. Daylan Hamilton and Bryce Monroe continue to be out for IUPUI.
Crenshaw knows that adversity can shape a team positively if the group responds in the right way.
“We are a young group who had injuries and we needed to learn how to play together. Sometimes you have to have some failure in order to have success. Winning is something you learn how to do.”
School has been in session these last couple of weeks for this IUPUI team. The Jags have been right there at the door with multiple opportunities to win, but prior to this weekend they had been unable to get over the hump. Saturday, however, Crenshaw’s pupils kicked down the proverbial door and found themselves on the winning side of the threshold.
Going forward Crenshaw and company are looking to build on the momentum they have established.
“We are laying the proper foundation to build this program the right way. Our goal is to continue to get better each and every day. The biggest thing is we have to stick to things we always talk about – Accountability, Competitiveness, Togetherness and Toughness. ACTT is the acronym we use but these are the pillars of this program.”
IUPUI will hit the road for four straight away games before returning to Indianapolis for their final two regular season contests. This gives the Jaguars six opportunities to tune up as they get ready to make a run in the Horizon League Tournament.
Right now the Jags are a group that are more than capable of making some noise and the rest of the Horizon League is taking notice.