USI men face first loss, look at positives for next game

Dennis Marshall

The No. 8 Screaming Eagles suffered their first loss of the season 64-56 on Jan. 11 to No. 3 Drury, the defending Division II national champions.

“They were at another pace than us — going faster and playing harder then us,” Gavin Schumann, junior guard, said. “Then finally in the second half we matched it. I wish we would have played with the same energy in the first half. It’s a bad thing we lost but it’s also a good thing because now we know what it feels (like). We will get in the gym and work harder. We don’t want to feel like this again.”

Aaron Nelson, the only Eagle to score in double digits, ended with 29 points and 13 rebounds and extended his USI record to 12 straight games with a double-double.

“It’s not really something I think about,” Nelson said. “It’s just a matter of going out there and helping my team get a win.”

Rodney Watson said his team played much more competitively in the second half by adjusting their intensity level on defense, but every time they made a run, Drury had an answer.

“They just kept making those 50/50 plays,” Watson said. “21 points in the first half is not enough. We dug ourselves a good hole, but we fought back. Our guys believed and they stayed together. I’m really proud of them. We talked about the toughness of (the) game, and I thought we did a nice job adjusting to that.”

Games like the one against Drury allow USI to experience a “really hard pace(d)” game, Watson said.

“That was a championship caliber game, and we’re fortunate to play those,” he said.

Those kinds of games help prepare USI for the games this week – St. Joseph College and University of Indianapolis.

“It’s all what you learn from it,” Watson said. “Playing those guys is nothing but helping us.”

The Eagles play St. Josesph College (4-10, 1-3) at 7 p.m. today at the Physical Activities Center, then face Indianapolis (11-1, 3-1) at 3:15 p.m. Saturday. They then head to Bellarmine (12-0, 4-0) to face the Knights on Monday.