Last week, we discussed potential Summit League title contenders for the upcoming season, and last year’s co-champions Fort Wayne and South Dakota State both have chances to repeat.
As is usually the case in ties, the margins were razor thin and both teams had their chances to emerge as the outright regular season champions.
Here’s a look back at one game for each squad that, had the outcome been different, could have given them the outright league title.
IUPUI 80 Fort Wayne 77 (Feb. 27, 2016)
This game jumps out immediately when looking at last season’s conference slate. Fort Wayne — who was known as IPFW prior to their recent rebranding — traveled to Indianapolis having won seven of its previous eight games.
Fort Wayne came into the regular season finale with a chance to finish 13-3 in league play and stake their claim as league champs. There was also the revenge factor as IUPUI won in Fort Wayne earlier in the season.
IUPUI had lost five of its last six, but a win over the Mastodons would give the Jaguars a winning conference record and a season sweep over their in-state rivals.
Fort Wayne led by as many as nine points in the first half at 29-20, but a stretch of 0-for-4 shooting that also included multiple turnovers let IUPUI back in.
A 7-0 run put the Jaguars ahead 41-39 at halftime and they never relinquished the lead in the second half.
IUPUI shot over 50 percent in the game along with a 9-for-15 performance beyond the arc, including 6-for-7 by Darrell Combs.
Omaha 96 South Dakota St. 92 (Feb. 10, 2016)
The Omaha Mavericks put an end to the Jackrabbits’ five-game win streak in a game that saw a lot of shots taken and a lot of shots made.
Omaha wound up behind South Dakota St. and Fort Wayne in the final conference standings with a 10-6 league record, but the Mavericks were still in the title hunt heading into this game.
This turned out to be a game for people who do not care for the slow pace of some college basketball games. The teams combined for 26 three-pointers and both teams shot better than 50 percent.
The Jackrabbits sprinted out to an eight-point lead with just under 12-minutes left in the first half, but could never pull away. It took just over two minutes for Omaha to cut the deficit to a single point.
South Dakota State widened the gap a bit after that and found itself up 46-40 at the break.
Omaha scored the first five points of the second half and eventually took a 52-51 lead with just under 17-minutes left.
The lead would change hands five more times before the game ended.
It was knotted up at 92 apiece with just over 30 seconds remaining when Tre’Shawn Thurman put the Mavericks up for good.
The Jackrabbits tied a team record with 15 three-pointers but it was not enough as this game was a continuation of the team’s road woes last season.