(Indianapolis, Ind.) - It wasn't pretty, but Kansas City men's basketball slugged out a 48-44 win in the regular season finale at IUPUI Saturday evening. It was the first time since 2005 that UMKC had pulled off a sweep of the Jaguars.
UMKC (8-23, 5-11 SL) will be the No. 6 seed and face No. 3 seed North Dakota State on Sunday night in the first round of the Summit League Tournament at 8:30 p.m. CT in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Senior Thomas Staton broke a 40-40 tie with five consecutive points spanning 40 seconds, giving the 'Roos a 45-40 lead with 2:41 remaining. The Jaguars (6-25, 1-15 SL) scored the next two buckets to get the advantage down to one, but UMKC's Mason Wedel hit a free throw on the other end to extend it to two with 25 seconds left. IUPUI got to the foul line on the other end with nine seconds left, but missed both attempts. Kirk Korver hit both free throws after grabbing the rebound, sealing the victory for the 'Roos.
The game started fast, but slowed to a crawl at the end of the first half and into the second. With 11:57 on the clock in the opening half, IUPUI led by a 16-12 margin, but Nelson Kirksey kept the 'Roos close, answering with a three. Neither team would make a field goal over the next five minutes though.
Trinity Hall helped it get kick-started after following up a fast-break to slam home a rebound, tying it at 17. It sparked a 10-2 rally though, and concluded with a Staton dunk at the 3:40 mark to give the 'Roos the biggest lead of the night at 25-19.
IUPUI answered with a run of its own though, holding UMKC without a field goal the rest of the period, and entered the half with a 27-26 lead.
The bucket-less streak continued into the second half for the 'Roos as they would not score a point until the 14:15 mark. Fortunately for UMKC, the Jaguars were also anemic, scoring only once during the span.
The two squads struggled to 12 points apiece over the next 10:29 though, leaving it at 40-40 with 3:46 to play before Staton made the two big plays, a jumper-and-one with 3:20 left, followed by another mid-range jumper with 2:41 on the clock.
UMKC shot only 32 percent in the contest, but IUPUI wasn't much better at 36.6 percent. The difference proved to be the Kangaroos' 18-9 advantage in points off turnovers.
Staton led the 'Roos with 14 points, while Kirksey scored 9 of his 11 points in the opening period. Mitchell Patton led the Jags with 19, while Sean Esposito scored 10.