Saturday night the Roos took the court in Fort Wayne, Indiana against the IPFW Mastodons. Both teams have had their share of struggles early in the conference season and played a fairly even, back and forth affair. Both teams shot 50.0% or better and both made 24 baskets in the game. UMKC came away with a 63-59 win thanks to their three-point shooting (7-15) while IPFW struggled in that regard (2-8).
With the win, the Roos continue to put their recent nine game losing streak in the rear view and it’s not a coincidence that their improved play coincides with the emergence of Estan Tyler as the team’s primary scoring option. The St.Paul, MN native and sophomore missed the Roos matchup with against Utah Valley due to illness on January 9th but since then has scored 64 points in his last three games. That stretch includes a 25 point effort against South Dakota that landed him Summit League Player of the Week honors eight days ago.
On Saturday, Tyler again led the Roos going for 19 points on 6-14 shooting. He was 3-6 from beyond the arc giving him five straight games with multiple three-point makes. Trinity Hall‘s return has also helped UMKC. In his second game back from injury, after missing eight games in the last month, Hall contributed 11 points in only 13 minutes of action and should continue to play a bigger role as he continues to round back into form. As a team the Roos won the battle on the boards 30-21 and when that is the case you know Fred Chatmon was handling his business. He only scored four points on 2-3 shooting but pulled down ten rebounds to lead the pack. Kirk Korver was in double digits with 11 points and Thomas Staton came off the bench to add 14 points in 31 minutes of play.
IPFW senior, and leading scorer, Frank Gaines just missed his 18.5 per game season average with 17 on 7-13 from the floor. Demario Hines came off the bench to add 13 in 23 minutes while freshman Joe Reed added 10 points in 19 minutes. The team’s second leading scorer, Luis Jacobo was limited to just two points on 1-4 shooting.
With three losses in their last four games, IPFW (9-12, 2-5) looks to get back on track with another home game on Thursday. However it will be a tall task as their opponent will be the Western Illinois Leathernecks (15-4, 7-1) who are in a first place tie atop the Summit League standings.
Tonight UMKC (6-14, 3-5) returns home after winning two of their last three games on the road. Coming into the Swinney Recreation Center is the Houston Baptist Huskies (4-14, 0-3), a non-conference opponent from the Great West Conference. In addition to their lackluster record, the Huskies RPI places them 340th out of 347 DI schools and their strength of schedule is 305th. By contrast, UMKC is 230th in RPI and 109th in schedule strength so far. Houston Baptist has dropped eight games in a row and have lost 13 in a row to DI opponents. Brazilian senior forward Art Bernardi leads the Huskies in scoring (13.5 ppg) and rebounding (5.8 rpg).