When the Purdue Fort Wayne men’s basketball team takes on Omaha, you can be sure it’ll be a close game.
Tonight, it was no exception.
J.T. Gibson and K.J. Robinson had 12 points apiece for the Mavericks at the Gates Center, where Omaha emerged with a 61-59 victory.
Omaha’s Ayo Akinwole drove through the lane and made a shot that barely trickled in with 3.2 seconds left, as his team won for a sixth straight time in the series. PFW’s Deonte Billups missed a shot at the buzzer that could have won it.
PFW (12-17, 5-9 in the Summit League) was paced by Jarred Godfrey’s 18 points. Matt Holba had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
It was the 13th straight meeting between the teams that was decided by nine or fewer points.
Omaha (14-14, 7-6) had won the first meeting of the season between the teams, 75-71 on Jan. 25 in Nebraska, and the Mavericks ousted the Mastodons from the Summit League Tournament last year with a 61-60 victory.
The Mastodons fell behind 18-11 when Marlon Ruffin converted a jump shot with 13:25 remaining in the first half. But the Mastodons then went on a 19-6 run, culminating with Brian Patrick going from mid-court for a wide-open dunk to make it 30-24 with 5:16 left in the half.
It was tied at 34 at halftime, at which point PFW was shooting 38.7% from the field and Omaha was shooting 41.7%.
It was a back-and-forth game until Omaha took a 52-46 lead with 8:49 remaining in the second half on a Zach Thornhill 3-pointer from the corner, which was set up by an Akinwole steal at the other end of the court.
Godfrey answered for the Mastodons by going the length of the court, through traffic, for a layup. Patrick cut the deficit to two points with a jump shot with 6:35 remaining.
Matt Pile’s putback with 2:26 left put the Mavericks up 59-52.
The Mastodons tied it at 59 with 24 seconds left, when Marcus DeBerry stole the ball and went for a wide-open layup.