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USI men battle Irish before falling in South Bend

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USI Blows Late Lead, Falls to SW Baptist

University of Southern Indiana Men's Basketball fought hard, but lost to the University of Notre Dame, 82-70, Wednesday evening in South Bend, Indiana. The Screaming Eagles are 1-2 after tonight's action, while the Fighting Irish begin 2022-23, 3-0.

The Eagles fell behind early in the opening half as the Irish took advantage USI's cold field goal shooting to post a 13-5 lead before six minutes were gone. USI was just two-of-nine from field to start game.

Notre Dame doubled up USI at 22-11 and posted its largest lead at 30-13 with 7:07 remaining the opening frame. The Eagles would battle back with an 8-3 run to cut the deficit to 33-21 with 3:53 on the first half clock when senior forward Jacob Polakovich (Grand Rapids, Michigan) laid in a bucket. Polakovich had six of the eight points during the surge.

USI cooled in the final two minutes of the first half as Notre Dame re-extended the margin to 17, 42-25, and conclude the first half.

After the Irish opened with a pair of buckets to take a 21-point lead, 46-25, to begin the final 20 minutes, the Eagles' offense caught fire with a 18-5 run to cut the deficit to nine points, 51-43. Polakovich led the way with eight of the 17-points, while graduate forward Trevor Lakes (Lebanon, Indiana) dropped in five.

Notre Dame would rebound to re-extend their advantage to double-digits with a quick 12-4 burst to lead 61-45 at the midway point of the second half. The Irish would slowly pull away in the final five minutes in putting the lid on a 82-70 final, despite USI scoring the final eight points.

USI, as a team, was dead even in the battle on the glass, 35-35, and for the third-straight game was a smoother team in the second half. The Eagles shot 48.4 percent from the field (15-31) in the second half, compared to 34.4 percent (11-32) in the opening half, and outscored the Irish, 45-40, in the final 20 minutes.

Individually, Lakes led three players in double-digits with 21 points. He was seven-of-11 from the field, five-of-seven from long range, and two-of-three from the stripe.

Polakovich followed with 16 points and 10 rebounds in his 2022-23 debut. The senior forward was seven-of-10 from the field and completed his first double-double by grabbing three offensive and seven defensive boards.

Junior guard Gary Solomon (Detroit, Michigan) rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11 points and dished a game-high five assists.

USI returns to Screaming Eagles Arena Friday night when it hosts Loras College for a 7 p.m. tipoff. Loras is 1-1 to open the 2022-23 season, falling 98-88 loss at Concordia University Chicago and winning 120-92 versus Greenville College. The DuHawks are led by sophomore guard Ali Sabet, who is posting 22.5 points per contest.

The Eagles won the first meeting between the two programs last year, defeating Loras, 85-56. Polakovich led the way with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while senior guard Jelani Simmons followed with 14 points. The Eagles had 12 players score in the victory.

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