Jag women claim first ever postseason victory in WNIT opener
DeAirra Goss scored a game-high 19 points and Nevena Markovic and Akilah Sims both posted double-doubles leading the IUPUI women's basketball team to its first post-season victory in its Division-I era as the Jags defeated Central Michigan, 72-66, in the first round of the WNIT.
Goss scored 15 of her 19 points in the second half helping IUPUI hold on for the win after watching its 19-point lead trimmed to six in the second half. Markovic and Sims joined Goss in double-figures with 14 points and 11 points, respectively, and Markovic registered her fourth straight double-double with 11 boards while Sims claimed her first of the season by adding 10 rebounds.
IUPUI played to its strengths and scored in the paint and in transition, which proved to be the difference. For the game, IUPUI outscored the Chippewas 48-22 in the key and 10-2 in fast break points.
Both teams struggled from the floor in the opening 10 minutes, but IUPUI's ability to pound the offensive glass helped the Jags take a 16-15 advantage as the nine-minute mark neared.
Beginning with a Markovic lay-up with 8:53 on the clock, the Jags defense came through forcing missed shots early in the shot clock, and turnovers allowing them to get out in transition. IUPUI scored four points in transition during a 14-0 spurt - that also included six points from Markovic - allowing it to double up Central Michigan, 30-15, with 6:39 to play.
The Chippewas were able to get to get to the free throw line and capitalize to break the run, but baskets in the final few minutes from Sims and Markovic led the Jaguars into the half with a 39-28 advantage.
Out of the half, the Jaguars defense held Central Michigan to 2-for-15 shooting in the first seven minutes and managed to go on a 14-6 run to open up a 53-32 lead with just under 13 minutes to play.
Central Michigan began to pick up the pace and scored on some easy second-chance baskets and fast-break opportunities, but Goss and Dee-Dee Bellamy responded for the Jaguars on the offensive end keeping IUPUI in front, 62-48, as the clock dipped below eight minutes.
The lead remained in double figures until a Jas'Mine Bracey lay-up with 4:05 brought the Chippewas within eight, 67-59, but a Goss free throw on the returning possession halted the momentum and inched the advantage up to 68-59 with 3:42 on the clock.
The Chippewas continued to claw back and climbed within seven with 2:16 to play, but Katie Comello drew a charge and Markovic picked up a big block on ensuing possession to keep the margin at seven points, 68-61.
Comello was fouled with 58 seconds left and hit both free throws to boost the cushion to nine, 70-61, but a three on the other end from Kerby Tamm made the game a two-possession affair, 70-64, with 35 seconds left.
Down the stretch, Goss and Sims each went 1-of-2 from the line proving to be enough as IUPUI held on for a 72-66 victory.
The Jags advance to the second round of the WNIT where they will face the winner of the Northwestern/Ball State game.