SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Earlier in the week, Purdue Fort Wayne coach Jon Coffman said the Mastodons had been an inconsistent shooting team all season. Case in point: the 2020 Summit League Tournament.
Seventh-seeded PFW defeated No. 2 South Dakota State in the quarterfinal round on Saturday night and shot 43 percent from the field - the best they’d shot it in nearly a month.
In Monday night’s semifinal game against North Dakota, the Mastodons struggled from the field, shooting just 30 percent from the floor that resulted in PFW’s season coming to an end with a 73-56 loss to the Fighting Hawks.
The 30 percent from the field is PFW’s season low, and it came at an extraordinarily bad time as the Mastodons finish the season at 14-19 and 6-11 in conference play. In its three-point win over South Dakota State on Saturday, PFW had 22 assists. In the loss Monday night, they had just 12.
“I thought we got some good looks today that we normally knock down as a team,” said PFW senior Matt Holba, who finished with 17 points on 5-of-13 shooting from the floor and eight rebounds. “We knock them down in practice and we knocked them down yesterday (Saturday vs. South Dakota State). But that’s just the way the ball bounces. It just wasn’t our day.”
Jarred Godfrey added 13 points and Carl Dylan had 10 for the Mastodons.
PFW’s defense kept them in it early. They held the league’s leading scorer, Marlon Stewart, to just three first half points.
He entered the game averaging 18.6 points and finished with 15 against PFW, but he didn’t get to double figures until nine minutes remaining in the game.
But while the Mastodons were doing a good job on Stewart, the rest of the North Dakota roster was doing damage. Kienan Walter hit three straight 3-pointers in the first three minutes of the game and PFW was on its heels in a hurry. Walter finished as North Dakota’s leading scorer with 20 points which included four 3-pointers.
“We caught them off guard a little bit with Keinan, but his light is about as green as our colors,” North Dakota coach Paul Sather said. “If he’s got his feet set and he’s open, he’s a pretty good shooter.”
The Fighting Hawks led most of the first half and while clinging to a 13-11 lead, North Dakota went on a 13-0 run to open things up. The run was fueled by De’Sean Allen-Elkens, who hit back-to-back 3-pointers and had eight straight points during the stretch.
While North Dakota was surging, PFW went cold. After the North Dakota run pushed the lead to 26-11, the Mastodons were shooting just 22 percent from the floor and it looked like things could get out of hand.
But PFW responded and cut it to 29-25 just before the half and the Mastodons had new life to start the second half. But the shooting woes continued for PFW in the second half as they missed five of its first six shots. Again, while the Mastodons struggled from the field, North Dakota opened things up and built the lead to as many as 18 at 65-47 late in the game.
“I think our shooting percentage is off a little bit. It’s the last game of the year and you’re scrambling,” Coffman said. “We forced some stuff in that last eight or nine minutes, so I think that number is off in that regard.”
This was PFW’s final game in the Summit League as the program is transitioning to the Horizon League for the 2020-21 season.
“This group has grown in the Summit League,” Coffman said. “It’s been an awesome run. Nine years, great memories, great coaches, great universities and phenomenal fan bases. I’ve learned a new appreciation for this part of the country. I’ve really enjoyed my experience and I’ll miss it.”