Purdue Fort Wayne had a busy first week of action with three games in seven days, finished 2-1 in that stretch.
The week started with a home opener versus NAIA foe Goshen. The final score was a lopsided 90-45 win for the Dons, but there was plenty to take away from this one with a sign of things to come later in the week. The winning effort was highlighted by a game high and career high 22 points from Amelia Bromenschenkel on 9-14 shooting, including 4-7 on threes. This was just a preview of the much-improved Bromenschenkel.
Transfer point guard (Radford) Destinee Marshall had a solid performance going for 11 points on 4-7 shooting and adding 4 assists. The Mastodons had two others in double-figures, Shayla Seller and Audra Emmerson with 10 each. The 1st quarter saw PFW off to a bit of a slow start missing on a few open looks keeping the score close at a slim 13-11 advantage.
The final 4 minutes of the quarter Purdue Fort Wayne went on a 10-4 run and wouldn’t look back. The Dons owned the 2nd quarter outscoring the Maple Leafs 21-4. PFW would hit on 12 three pointers for the game, moving the ball well and finding the open player finishing with 14 assists as a team to just 7 turnovers. Unfortunately, shooting guard Sylare Starks took a shot to the face late and would miss the next two games. Overall, it was about what one would expect coming out of the gate facing a non D1 as everyone saw minutes and got their feet on the ground.
Michigan State (11/10)
PFW traveled a couple hours up I-69 to face the Michigan State Spartans on Thursday night. MSU would pull away in the second half of this one, outscoring the Dons 45-24. The Spartans would win by an 85-53 final. PFW had several chances in the second quarter to get the score in single digits, but just could not convert some great looks from the three-point line.
As is usually the case facing a Big Ten school, MSU held a large advantage with size and athleticism over Purdue Fort Wayne. The Spartans were able to use that advantage pulling down 23 offensive rebounds with an overall massive rebounding advantage for the game of 53 to 33.
The Mastodons were able to hang in early behind some solid three-point shooting Ryin Ott, who finished with a game high 13 points, including 3 long balls. Bromenschenkel was saddled with foul trouble much of her 19 minutes, eventually fouling out early in the fourth. She was still efficient netting 11 points (4-6 overall, 3-3 3pt). The athleticism of Michigan State caused a ton of problems for the Dons in the open-court with traps and steals and causing 26 turnovers resulting in several uncontested lay-ups. This was one that head coach Maria Marchesano and her staff can look at and take several different things to focus on for improvement as the rotation starts to get narrowed down with game experience.
Purdue Fort Wayne hosted Bellarmine at the Gates Center on Sunday to finish off the three games in a seven-day stretch. PFW would make some big shots in big moments in this one for a solid nonconference win, with the final score of 73-62. The growth of this program could be seen with this win as I am not sure a year ago at this time the Dons would have won a game like this.
It was a good team effort, but when the Dons needed to make a play, Bromenschenkel time and time again stepped up and made them., having numerous deflections (3 steals) and making big-time plays on the offensive end. She broke her career high that she had set on Monday with 26 points in this one, going 10-15 from the floor and 4-6 from deep.
Bromenschenkel seemingly is always in the right place at the right time and her length allows her to finish around defense in the paint and get to passes on the defensive end that the offense doesn’t expect. Ryin Ott also made some big shots for the Dons finishing with 14 points. Which she didn’t have her best shooting game (4-14 FG), she came up big with a huge three in the fourth that would give PFW some cushion down the stretch.
Sellers would be the other Don in double figures with 10 (8 of those in the fourth). Bellarmine posed a BIG challenge for the Dons. When I say big, I mean they had a massive amount of size. There was no bigger Knight than 6-6 freshmen center Gracie Merkle who finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Bellermine’s focus was to get Merkle the ball as deep as possible and PFW was doing everything they could to not let that happen by fronting her in the post and providing back side help. Jazzlyn Linbo and Sydney Graber provided most of the inside defense on Merkle.
Purdue Fort Wayne’s defensive effort was impressive rotating quickly to passes and drives and pressuring every ball screen, making the Bellarmine guards uncomfortable while forcing 30 turnovers, which was ultimately the difference in the game.
The Dons starting the season playing a NAIA, Big Ten and a similar Mid-Major opponent in the opening week and coming out 2-1 is about what Marchesano would expect. These games all had a lot of value for the Mastodons’ staff to see where pieces of the puzzle will fit moving forward and to begin to define some roles. This week’s lone game will be at the Gates Center on Thursday night (11/17) hosting Chicago St. before hitting the road for the Hostilo Community Classic in Savannah, Georgia for 3 quality opponents Norfolk St. (11/21), Marshall (11/22) and UT-Martin (11/23)