Purdue Fort Wayne is 9-1…and all anyone wants to talk about is the shoe!

1
471
Photo courtesy of Purdue Fort Wayne Athletics/Josh Gales

Our headline is kind of misleading, seeing as how we, like everyone else since Wednesday night, can’t stop talking about the shoe.

The shoe, of course, is the one that belongs to Purdue Fort Wayne guard Rasheed Bello, who lost it while defending against a Southern Indiana attack and subsequently used it to reject a shot from Jack Campion.

Odd as it may sounds, Bello’s shoe block, which was a legal play because he didn’t throw it, provided the spark the Mastodons needed to take over the game and win on the road, 70-57. Purdue Fort Wayne, who had struggled throughout the game, were undeterred by subpar shooting and an early deficit, as well as the ejection of Quentin Morton-Robertson, who gave the USI the one-fingered salute and was rewarded with a Flagrant-2.

The win against Southern Indiana, was just the latest is a string of successes the Mastodons have achieved already in this campaign. In addition to the latest non-conference win, PFW notched a pair of victories as part of the Horizon League schedule against both Green Bay and Oakland. As a result, the Mastodons, at 9-1, are off the the best start since the 1992-93 season, one of their best showings as a Division II squad.

One other added benefit to the hot start for PFW is in the NET Rankings. When the first rankings came out of December 4th, the Mastodons found themselves sitting at 57th, marking the highest in the conference. Thanks to the win over USI, they moved up three more spots to 54.

Before the league games, the tougher of the two match-ups, on paper, was supposed to be the Golden Grizzlies, who were fresh off an upset against Xavier. The Phoenix, under first-year head coach Sundance Wicks, were perceived to be in rebuilding mode, and that Purdue Fort Wayne would have an easier time in this home contest.

However, the opposite turned out to be true, as upstart Green Bay gave the Mastodons headaches all night, while Oakland couldn’t figure out how to stop Purdue Fort Wayne from blazing the nets with its shooting.

In the opening HL contest, even though the Mastodons led for 34 minutes of the game, they couldn’t shake the Phoenix, who at multiple points in the second half took a slim lead against the hosts. Tied with 49 seconds left in the contest, Morton-Robertson came through with a clutch three-pointer. And Purdue Fort Wayne preserved the victory by Bello denying a last-second attempt by Green Bay’s Noah Reynolds to tie it up, taking advantage of the miscue by scoring a lay-up on the subsequent fast break.

The stars on offense for this game, however, were Jalen Jackson and Maximus Nelson. Jackson, who had a great first couple of conference games, led the Mastodons over the Phoenix with 19 points, while Nelson came off the bench to chip in 17.

At the O’rena, Oakland had absolutely no answer for Purdue Fort Wayne, and no matter which Mastodon player was shooting, it appeared that none of them could miss. This was especially true from beyond the arc, and it was probably the most optimal version of head coach Jon Coffman’s offensive scheme seen in years, if ever. PFW ended the contest shooting 17-for-26, a mind-boggling 65.4 percent, from three-point range.

In the romp against the Grizz, it was Anthony Roberts to topped the scoring list for the Mastodons, finishing with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting. He was joined by Jackson and Morton-Robertson, who added 17, and Bello, who scored 16. In the case of Jackson, while he didn’t attempt a three-pointer against Oakland, he went a perfect 7-for-7 from the field.

The next two games will find Purdue Fort Wayne playing in both of their home venues, with the Mastodons hosting SEMO at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, December 9th, then heading on-campus to the Gates Sports Center on December 16th to take on Bethune-Cookman. PFW will then wrap up its non-conference slate on the road against Pitt on December 20th.

1 COMMENT

  1. Wake up babe! Finally some respect for PFW from horizone roundtable. I haven’t got this love from HR in a while. Great read and please talk about PFW more on the podcast other than “we doubt them and should continue to doubt them”.
    Go Dons!

Leave a Reply