Less than two days after taking on Ohio State, a team that coach Jon Coffman joked he would rank as the best in the country because of its elite defense, Purdue Fort Wayne returned to the court against a less intimidating team from the Buckeye State.
Jarred Godfrey led the way with 15 points, and Brian Patrick chipped in 14 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals to help the Mastodons overcome a slow start and run away from Division III Ohio Northern in the second half on the way to a 81-47 win.
“It felt amazing,” Patrick said of bouncing back from the big loss to Ohio State with a resounding victory. “Turn the page, next game. On to the next one, that’s it.”
After giving up 13 3-pointers against Ohio State, the Mastodons (3-5) set a goal to surrender five or fewer 3s against the overmatched visitors. Instead, the Polar Bears hit three shots from long range in the first 4:38 to take an 11-7 lead and leading to a few sharp words from Coffman in the huddle at the first media timeout.
“I had a mild jumping of a few guys I thought were a little casual,” the coach said. “Those were also heavy-minute guys. ... You can’t pace yourself, that doesn’t help anybody, we’re never going to play that way. Right now, so much of it is about stacking our details, and if one guy is playing at 80% it throws off the whole machine.”
The stoppage seemed to work. Almost immediately, the Mastodons ripped off a 10-0 run that included a string of high-percentage shots close to the hoop. The spurt put PFW in front for good.
The defense tightened up after the break, as well. After starting 3 for 3 from beyond the arc, the Polar Bears went 2 for 22 the rest of the way, and the Mastodons met their defensive goal.
Patrick helped his team open some breathing room down the stretch of the first half by scoring seven points during another 10-0 run, including a 3-pointer off the fastbreak that capped the burst and left PFW up 33-18.
“I was in flow with the offense, in rhythm,” Patrick said. “My teammates kept giving me the ball in the right spots, and I just took advantage of that.”
The Mastodons led 41-26 at halftime and never let Ohio Northern back in the game in the second half.
With PFW up 23 midway through the half, Dylan Carl provided a huge highlight, leaping high to slam a Polar Bears layup attempt off the backboard.
With less than two minutes left and the game well in hand, freshman Deonte Billups added an exclamation point, slicing through the lane with his left hand and throwing down a rim-rattling one-handed dunk.
“I was really just looking to run the offense and drive and kick,” Billups said of his slam. “But I just happened to see an open lane, so I went for it. I wasn’t expecting it, but it happened. It felt good.”
Junior Cameron Benford led all players with nine rebounds and added his first career 3-pointer in the second half, leading to one of the loudest cheers of the game.
The victory finished off a breakneck stretch for PFW that saw the Mastodons play eight games in 19 days.
Coffman acknowledged that some tired legs might have contributed to his team going 8 for 25 from beyond the arc, but this early-season stretch has helped an inexperienced team find its footing in the post-John Konchar Era.
“We are a versatile team,” Patrick said. “We have a lot of guys that are more than capable. We’ve just gotta continue to get better and continue to put the pieces together.”