The Journal Gazette
Saturday, December 04, 2021 4:40 pm

'That's what's expected': Mastodons humble Norse 71-57

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Purdue Fort Wayne’s men’s basketball team defeated Northern Kentucky 71-57 on Saturday, putting forth a commendable performance in which it took control early and never wavered, got 21 points from Jalon Pipkins, and outshot the Norse 48.1% to 36.2% at Memorial Coliseum.

For Mastodons coach Jon Coffman, it was how his team should play – tough defensively, good on the glass, strong in transition – and a stark contrast to Thursday's 86-73 loss to Wright State during PFW’s first Horizon League game at the Coliseum.

“I told our guys very calmly, I said, ‘Our effort and what we did (Saturday), that’s what’s expected. That’s what generations before you had done in the Summit League and we’ve got to get back to that. That’s what the Horizon League has got to see out of us,” Coffman said. “We’ve got to be in the top half (of the conference standings) because that’s what our talent is and that’s what our tradition has us at, and that’s what we need to be.’ So that’s the challenge I have to our group.”

Pipkins made 7 of 12 shots, including a thunderous alley-oop dunk set up by Damian Chong Qui during a fastbreak that began with a Ra Kpedi rebound, to make it 30-17 with 2:10 remaining in the first half.

“We play fast regardless of the defense, but they played zone,” said Pipkins, who had a game-high three steals. “So we figured if we just run, get the ball out and play fast, then they couldn’t stop us.”

PFW’s Jarred Godfrey made 5 of 9 shots for 14 points, including a play in which he stole the ball from Trey Robinson at mid-court and raced in for a dunk and a 40-22 lead with 16:17 left in the second half. Godfrey had six rebounds and a game-best five assists.

“For us, getting out in transition, we love that,” Coffman said. “That’s no secret, we’re going to play fast. We’ve been leading the league in scoring and that’s kind of where we’ve hung our hat, being able to put pressure on the other rim. Over 40 minutes, we think it’ll break people down. But you can’t do it taking the ball out of the net; … you’ve got to get stops and got to get rebounds.”

PFW’s Bobby Planutis had 11 points. Kpedi totaled nine points and a game-best nine rebounds for the Mastodons (4-4, 1-1 in Horizon League) in front of an announced crowd of 1,143.

The Mastodons played their home games last season, their first in the Horizon League, at the Gates Center and finished the campaign 8-15 (6-14 in conference). In Thursday’s loss, the Mastodons shot 40% to Wright State’s 69.2%.

Beating Northern Kentucky didn't erase that disappointment as much as reinforce it as a teaching moment for Coffman, who wants his players to “never forget what it felt like Thursday.”

“There are going to be reference points and I will bring that Thursday, December 2nd, up again to reference: How do we fix that? Because the guys didn’t like that feeling after the game,” said Coffman, whose Mastodons play at Southern Illinois Edwardsville at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Northern Kentucky (2-5, 0-2) was paced by Robinson’s 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Sam Vinson added 10 points.

The Norse was victimized by the Mastodons' superior early shooting – PFW made 48.1% in the first half to Northern Kentucky’s 23.3% – and PFW answered when it saw its 18-point lead cut to 10 early in the second half.

“I just say, ‘Keep shooting,’” Planutis said. “I mean, sometimes we make them and sometimes we miss. But we make them more than we miss, so just keep shooting it. I think I missed my first four 3s and then I made that last one.”


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