The University of Indianapolis men’s basketball team wrapped up its regular season 23-3 overall, 15-3 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, on Thursday, Feb. 27, with a win over Saint Joseph’s College, 109-102. The victory concluded a historic regular season for UIndy as the Hounds tied with the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Rangers for best record in the GLVC East, claiming a share of the GLVC East Division title.
Leading the Hounds in their victory were senior guard Reece Cheatham and redshirt sophomore guard Jordan Loyd, who scored 26 and 20 points, respectively. Cheatham’s 26 points helped enshrine him as the 24th player in school history to score more than 1,200 career points, while Loyd’s 20 was good for a career high.
UIndy fell at home the Saturday before, however, losing to the rival Bellarmine University Knights 96-81. The loss against the Knights snapped UIndy’s 10-game winning streak and handed the team its first home loss of the season.
The Greyhounds held the lead just once early in the first half and failed to regain it during the rest of the contest. The Knights were able to keep a safe distance from the Hounds on the scoreboard, by being statistically on fire from outside the arc with 14 3-pointers.
Head Men’s Basketball Coach Stan Gouard said the Knights’ shooting performance damaged UIndy’s chances of keeping the game close.
“It sucks the life out of your defense when you do everything you can possibly do at the defensive end, and they [Bellarmine] hit you with 3-pointer after 3-pointer after 3-pointer,” he said. “I thought our guys kept fighting, but at the end of the day, they [Bellarmine] spread us out. They drove us, and we couldn’t do anything to match some of the things they did.”
The Hounds began their last home stand of the season earlier that week, on Thursday, Feb. 20, when they hosted the University of Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles. Despite being one of only two teams that had knocked off UIndy earlier in the season, the Screaming Eagles could not replicate that performance in Nicoson Hall, falling to the Hounds 92-67.
Junior forward/center Joe Lawson led the Hounds with a double-double, finishing with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Lawson said that heading into and during the game, the team felt a sense of revenge towards the Screaming Eagles.
“With them [USI] being one of the teams that beat us, we felt like we owed them one [a loss]. We felt like we should have won the first one [game],” he said. “So we definitely marked it [the game] on our calendar and came out on top.”
During the game, the Screaming Eagles held the lead once, with the first bucket of the contest. From that moment on, after Cheatham answered USI’s two-point bucket with a 3-pointer, to give UIndy the lead 3-2, the Hounds never looked back. By the end of the first half, UIndy led USI in commanding fashion, 53-35. In the second half, USI surged back to bring the deficit down to seven points nearly midway through. The Greyhounds adjusted, however, and were able to regain a commanding lead for the rest of the game, cruising to a significant conference win.
Following the victory, Gouard said that he was proud of the effort by his players.
“They showed a lot of resilience tonight. They just did a great job across the board,” he said. “Everybody did their part tonight, and we made some big plays down the stretch, especially when those guys [USI] made their run. I was happy that we finally rebounded the way I thought we could, and we made those guys pay for some of their misses.”
The Hounds will now begin postseason play in Evansville, Ind., on Friday, March 7, as they take on the Knights for the third time this season at the Ford Center in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Deaconess GLVC Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament as the No. 3 seed. The game is set to begin at 8:30 p.m. CST.