Second half struggles haunt Purdue Fort Wayne

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Purdue Fort Wayne lost a couple of close games against Northern Kentucky, where they held a lead at halftime in both, but struggled to put them away. The first game of the weekend for the Mastodons resulted in a 75-68 loss, where they squandered a six-point lead at half and were outscored 43-30 in the second half.

Deonte Billups had the best scoring game of his young career on Friday, but it wasn’t enough to hang on. He notched a career high 22 points while hitting 6 of 8 beyond the arc. While the leading scorer on the season for the Mastodons, Jarred Godfrey, struggled mightily to get anything going. Godfrey picked up two fouls 19 seconds apart near the 4-minute mark in the first half and never seemed to get into a rhythm after that. Godfrey ended the game with five turnovers and shot 2-7 from the field.

Purdue Fort Wayne played stifling defense, which kept them in this game. They forced 20 turnovers and held Northern Kentucky to only six three-pointers for the whole game. They have really struggled on the defensive end throughout the season, so this was encouraging to see. In the first half alone, they scored 23 points off turnovers.

But this changed dramatically in the second half, while they only recorded two points off turnovers. Their defensive woes came back to haunt them in the second half. Northern Kentucky was able to get out and run and get to the foul line all half and Purdue Fort Wayne was unable to put a stop to it and fell short in a seven-point loss.

The turnovers were insurmountable for Purdue Fort Wayne because even though Godfrey had a tough outing, they were still able to shoot 53.2% from the field. Whenever Purdue Fort Wayne had some momentum they turned the ball over and couldn’t overcome it.

Jalon Pipkins and Demetric Horton were able to step up and play a big role in this game. 13 points and four steals for Pipkins and 16 points and three steals for Horton off the bench. Moral losses do not amount to much, but it is good to see the offense play so well when the leading scorer couldn’t get anything going.

Closing has become as issue for the Mastodons

Saturday’s 70-68 loss was back and forth the entire game. There were 10 lead changes and the score was tied 9 times. Northern Kentucky was able to win on a game winning layup with two seconds remaining by Marques Warrick. Turnovers were still an issue for the Mastodons, but the poor free throw and three-point shooting was the main issue of the night. Purdue Fort Wayne was 5-18 from three-point range and 13-22 from the free throw line. If they had shot the ball better, this game would have been drastically different.

Purdue Fort Wayne held an 11-point lead at the 15:42 mark in the second half, but they just couldn’t close it out. The final five minutes of the game was miss after miss for the Mastodons and their defense wasn’t able to put the pressure on Northern Kentucky like they did in the first half.

Deonte Billups, who was the stand out in Friday’s game, was in foul trouble all game and only shot 1-2 from the field. Godfrey had a much better game, but still struggled from three-point range. He pitched in 10 points to go with six rebounds and three assists. Jalon Pipkins had a great game and was the leading scorer, he put up 16 points on 7 of 12 from the field.

The Mastodons need to cut down on the turnovers and focus on rebounding the ball to stand a chance in this conference, but their offense has continued to impress. The task won’t get much easier this upcoming weekend, since Purdue Fort Wayne will be hosting UIC, who currently sits at 2nd place in the Horizon League. Godfrey and company will look to get going in the Mastodons first season in the conference and will try to put a stop to the losing streak.

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