The key stat in USI’s loss to Drury on Saturday had to be the 3-point shooting. USI was 0-for-11 while the Panthers were 7-for-13. That’s a 21-point differential in a game that ended with Drury winning 64-56. If the Eagles had managed to sink just three 3-pointers, they might have won (nobody can assume that would have made the difference, but it would most definitely have changed the character of the game, probably in USI’s favor).
On the other hand, there were stats that were utterly and completely in the Eagles’ favor. In points in the paint, USI outscored Drury 40-18. In second-chance points, USI outscored the Panthers 22-6. Those not only are significant differences, they usually are a reflection of why the winning team won. Recall USI coach Rodney Watson’s dictum (I’m paraphrasing, but this is essentially what he has said): layups and free throws win games, not 3-pointers.
But in this case, no. USI was 12-for-19 at the foul line while Drury was 9-for-12 — not much of a difference. And USI’s making more free throws wouldn’t have secured the win either, not even if the Eagles had gone 19-for-19 (well, probably not, anyway; see above). Really, I can’t see any other reason why USI lost this game but 3-point shooting. Sure, the Eagles got burned early when Drury hit many of its shots and USI didn’t, going 8-for-35 from the field in the first half. But the Eagles rallied in the second half and got within two points — even without sinking a single trey. If they had hit a couple of those, the entire nature of the game may have changed, most likely in USI’s favor.
No wonder USI point guard Lawrence Thomas’ response to the team’s going 0-for-11 from beyond the arc (he went 0-for-5) was, “It’s unacceptable.”