Heart-wrenching. That is the only way to describe the Indiana State Sycamores loss on senior night. The Sycamores fell to the Northern Iowa Panthers, 71-69.
The Sycamores have had the number two seed for the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament locked in for almost two weeks now. With that wrapped up, ISU hasn’t had anything else to play for. They lost too many regular season games to be an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Against the Panthers, the Sycamores actually tried to win for the seniors. This was the final home game for four seniors, Lucas Eitel, Manny Arop, Dawon Cummings, and the leader of the Sycamores for the last four years, Jake Odum.
The game went back and forth with ISU leading for a majority of the game, but the Panthers’ Seth Tuttle was too much for the Sycamores down the stretch. Tuttle scored 23 points had three assists and three steals to lead the way for the Northern Iowa.
The Sycamores on the other hand played a more even game with four players in double figures on the night. But that wouldn’t be enough as it all came down to a controversial play in the closing moments of the game. Cummings drove the baseline jumped and passed the ball to Odum who was unguarded for the the potentially game winning dunk with just five second left on the clock.
The referees waived off the points and called a questionable charge on Cummings. This left the Sycamores without the ball and down one. They immediately fouled on the inbound and the Panthers hit one of two free throws. ISU put the ball into the hands of their unquestioned leader Odum who had a good look at a game winning three at the buzzer that rimmed out. That was the kind of shot that ISU fans have grown accustomed to seeing Odum draining.
This ISU men’s team has had mostly ups all season. When they had downs it usually was not for long, they only lost back to back games once this season and it just so happened to be the final three games. Had the team finished the season on a winning streak they likely would have gotten an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Sycamores are going into the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament now with a chip on their shoulders and all of their players healthy. In the first round of the MVC Tournament they will play the winner of the Bradley Braves and Loyola Ramblers play-in game on Friday, March 7 at 6:05pm.