It’s fair to say that people don’t think of IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis) as a basketball power. Most likely know the Jaguars as a mid-major school if they know them at all.
But this year’s version of IUPUI is better than its reputation. The Jaguars are 4-2 in games actually played this season (they had a Covid pause similar to Iowa and have had other games cancelled) and took #11 Michigan to overtime back in early November. If Iowa wanted to earn a second straight non-conference win, it would be in for another battle.
Iowa led 25-16 at the end of the first quarter. Offensively, Iowa made a couple threes and otherwise did a good job of getting to the basket. Defensively, Iowa forced IUPUI into a lot of jump shots, but many of those shots were wide open, and the Jaguars hit 3 of 8 from three.
The second quarter was more back and forth. Iowa led by as many as 13 and as few as 8, but could never really pull away. That was largely due to a cold shooting quarter from three. Defensively, Iowa still forced plenty of jumpers, and IUPUI hit enough of them to keep the game from becoming a blowout. All told, Iowa led 44-32 at the half.
Early in the third quarter, it looked like Iowa would blow the game open. Iowa ballooned its lead to 18 by the mid-point of the quarter, and looked in full control. But then the offense went cold for a bit, and IUPUI went on a run, briefly cutting Iowa’s lead to 11. The Hawks regained control in the final minute of the quarter, and took a 62-47 lead into the 4th.
The start to the 4th quarter was disastrous for Iowa. IUPUI started hitting from three, benefited from a ton of foul calls, and got stops on defense due to sloppy Iowa play and a lack of foul calls. The lead got down to 7, then 6, then 4.
Iowa finally stopped the Jaguars’ run and pushed its lead back to 6, but IUPUI kept coming. Suddenly the lead was 4, then 2, then all the way down to 1. A Monika Czinano basket with 1:37 to play pushed that back to 3 and gave Iowa a brief reprieve from the onslaught.
But IUPUI kept coming, scoring with 45 seconds left to cut the lead back to 1. Iowa ran clock on its next possession, but Gabbie Marshall wasn’t looking for a pass in the corner and it went off her out of bounds.
Jaguars guard Rachel Mclimore drove on their last possession of the game and forced up a contested shot with 3 seconds left, but was bailed out by yet another foul call. She made both free throws to give IUPUI its first lead of the game.
On the other end, Iowa got a good look from Monika Czinano for the win, but the shot rimmed out, and Iowa couldn’t get another shot off. The Hawks lost 74-73, despite leading by 15 at the beginning of the quarter.
Iowa turned the ball over 6 times in the 4th. In the second half, Iowa was whistled for 13 fouls compared to 5 for IUPUI. The Jaguars shot 19 second half free throws compared to 2 for Iowa. A box score for the game is here.
I normally don’t comment much on officiating in these recaps or in general. Anyone who watches much women’s college basketball knows that the officiating leaves a lot to be desired.
But today, the officiating changed the game completely. When IUPUI was on offense, a number of contested shots were whistled for fouls. On the other end, Clark and Czinano got bumped on multiple shots and didn’t draw any whistles at all.
At one point in a few second sequence every referee on the floor missed one of the more egregious hooks I’ve seen by IUPUI’s center, then called a foul on Addison O’Grady on a shot she blocked and got all-ball.
Unfortunately, nothing will come from the ref-show we saw in the 4th quarter. Officiating seems to be one of the few professions where poor performance doesn’t result in any actual consequences.
The poor officiating wasn’t the only reason Iowa lost its big 4th quarter lead. But it certainly played a major factor.
Before the game, I did a write up about how Iowa’s defense has been better so far in the non-conference and how Clark’s poor three-point shooting accounts for much of the team’s offensive issues compared to last year. The tone of that section was upbeat despite Iowa’s relatively lackluster play and lack of a marquee victory.
Optimism seems wrong after that performance, though. IUPUI is a good team. It might well make the NCAA Tournament and threaten to upset a higher seed in the first round. But it’s also a team that Iowa should’ve beaten easily. A team Iowa shouldn’t possibly blow a 15-point 4th quarter lead to, even with suspect officiating.
The players and coaches need to do some soul-searching, and they need it fast. Conference play starts in just over a week.
Iowa returns to action next Thursday, December 30 on the road at Penn State. The game tips at 2pm on the Big Ten Network. The Nittany Lions are 7-5 on the season and 1-1 in conference play.