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  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Purdue Fort Wayne guard John Konchar looks to pass the ball in the first half against North Dakota at Hilliard Gates Sports Center on Thursday.  

Thursday, February 28, 2019 11:20 pm

PFW's defense hurting them down the stretch

ELIZABETH WYMAN | The Journal Gazette

Purdue Fort Wayne has dropped three straight. Nothing unusual for them in what's been a streaky season.

John Konchar didn't seem to worry too much after Thursday night's 88-82 loss to an under .500 North Dakota team.

"We've lost four in a row before and won five so anything's possible with this team, which is great," he said.

And he's right. PFW fans shouldn't be too worried about the Mastodons as the Summit League Tournament rolls around on March 9 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Each of the last three losses (Omaha, South Dakota State and North Dakota) have come by single digits. Frustrating for fans I'm sure because they easily could be 20-10 and not 17-13, but they can compete with the league's best. South Dakota State and Omaha will be the top 2 seeds in the tournament, so proving that PFW can at least hang with them is a confidence booster.

The bigger concern might be that the Mastodons have held halftime leads in all three of those losses. Teams are good at playing from behind, PFW did use a 10-0 run Thursday night to eventually pull within four of the Fighting Hawks, but playing with a lead seems to be something the Mastodons struggle with.

Konchar said the biggest issues facing the Mastodons right now is defense.

"We need to get our defense a lot better and once we get stops it'll be easier to get our offense going," he said.

The Mastodons have seen Omaha's Zach Jackson score 27 points, South Dakota State's Mike Daum drop 38 and North Dakota's Cortez Seales had 32 tonight.

Defense is certainly an issue.

Ewyman@jg.net