It was nothing but statistically dominant success this past weekend for the University of Indianapolis men’s basketball team, as the then No. 7 team in the country piled on another two victories over the Quincy University Hawks, 95-76, and the Truman State University Bulldogs, 83-64, on Thursday, Feb. 12 and Saturday, Feb. 14, respectively. The victories captured out west improved the Greyhounds record to 21-2, providing the program with its fourth consecutive 20-win season.
The two games against the Hawks and Bulldogs was the start of the Greyhounds’ longest road trip of the season, as they will play another set of road games this week. During the week prior, after coming off two-straight losses, the Greyhounds returned home on Feb. 5 and Feb. 7 to get back on track with another two wins. After the conclusion of those games, senior forward/center Joe Lawson said that he thought those two wins provided the team with confidence.
“The GLVC [Great Lakes Valley Conference] is like the toughest conference, and it was great to get two wins to gain some momentum, after getting two losses and going into [this long road trip] to play some of the harder teams in the GLVC,” Lawson said.
That momentum proved to carry over this past weekend, as UIndy claimed both victories in statistically dominant fashion. Each matchup ended with the Greyhounds winning by double figures, giving UIndy an undefeated regular season record against the GLVC West.
In their victory over Truman State, the Greyhounds defense shined statistically, as UIndy held the second-ranked scoring team in the GLVC to 19 points below its typical game average. Besides holding the team below its average, UIndy also limited the conference’s leading scorer in senior guard Seth Jackson to just 15 points, in comparison to his average 22.5 points per game.
On the offensive end, the Greyhounds were led by junior guard Jordan Loyd, who posted 22 points on the night for UIndy. The Greyhounds also saw its typical production out of Lawson, who had his sixth double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and junior guard Lucas Barker, who came close to a triple-double with 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Against Quincy last Thursday, the Greyhounds rode off of the 3-point shooting game as UIndy sank a season-high 14 shots from outside the arch. Five Greyhounds finished with two or more 3-pointers made, and were led by senior guard Kendall Vieke, who delivered four on the night.
Vieke, who typically sees playing time coming off the bench, has started for the Greyhounds three times this season. The Greyhounds have experienced health issues as of late, especially with the absence of senior forward Brennan McElroy, who was pulled from the game early against Quincy and sat out during the contest against the Bulldogs due to health reasons. In McElroy’s limited availability along with others recently in the past few weeks, Vieke has stepped in to contribute in a positive way in his time as a starter, along with many other bench players who have seen a statistical rise in production. Against Quincy, UIndy’s bench had 35 points, providing UIndy with one-third of its total points.
With that production being provided by the backup players, Head Men’s Basketball Coach Stan Gouard said that it is a positive he can rely on others to step in and give the starters a break without the team missing a beat on the court.
“It [the production from the bench] is huge. Those guys understand how important they are to the basketball team, and we have to get them more reps in games versus practice,” he said.
Gouard also said that the players are ready to contribute off the bench and that it shows when they step into the game.
The production is also pleasing to a starter who sees a lot of minutes in. Lawson, as the starting center for the Greyhounds, said he is appreciative of their contributions to the team. According to Lawson, while some of the starters have battled health issues lately, the bench players have done better during games because they have picked up a heavier work load and more responsibility in practice with the absence of those players.
The Greyhounds will now enter their toughest road test of the season in the GLVC, as they will travel to take on their conference rivals in the University of Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles on Thursday, and the Bellarmine University Knights on Saturday. Action against USI will begin at 8:30 p.m., while the matchup with Bellarmine will take place at 8 p.m.
The Greyhounds hosted both teams earlier this season, claiming the win in each game. UIndy defeated USI 84-67 on Jan. 17, and edged out the Knights a few days earlier on Jan. 15, 66-62.
The game against Bellarmine could prove to be vital in the upcoming postseason, as UIndy is currently a game back behind Bellarmine and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in the GLVC East standings. The final outcome of those standing could possibly be a factor in determining seeding for both the conference tournament and the national tournament in March.