The Journal Gazette
Sunday, December 20, 2020 8:40 pm

Mastodons can't overcome Vikings, Hodge

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The Purdue Fort Wayne men’s basketball team was ecstatic to be back on the court over the weekend, not surprising after seven games had been scrapped and a last-minute change to the schedule put Cleveland State at the Gates Center for two games.

Once the Mastodons break down film of Sunday’s 89-80 loss to Cleveland State, one in which PFW was dominated by a relatively unknown player, but able to scrap its way back from 34 points down in the second half, the Mastodons will likely hammer home the idea that just playing isn’t enough – they’ve got to play better, even in these unpredictable times.

“We can give all these reasons, but we’re not going to make them excuses,” said coach Jon Coffman, whose Mastodons are 1-2. “We’ve got a good basketball team, but we’ve got to keep getting better. We’ve got to figure it out. We’re 0-2 in the (Horizon) League and nobody cares that we’ve had these different obstacles. Everybody’s had stuff, just some more than others.”

Cleveland State guard D’Moi Hodge celebrated his 22nd birthday with 46 points, the most by a player in Division I this season. He set a Cleveland State record for 3-pointers in a game and was 10 of 15 from long range, 15 of 23 from the field. He neared the record for most points allowed by the Mastodons, 53 by South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters in 2013.

Hodge, a junior transfer from State College of Florida, where he averaged 22.3 points over two years, had 31 points in the first half, as Cleveland State built a 53-31 lead. Hodge came into the day averaging 8.3 points, including five points in the Vikings’ 63-61 victory here Saturday.

“He’s a good player,” said Jarred Godfrey, who led PFW with 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting. “I feel like we didn’t do a good job. There were some small details we slipped on in the first half, ended up giving him some good looks early, and he started getting in a rhythm."

PFW had been slated to play two games against IUPUI before COVID-19 protocols took the Jaguars out of the mix Friday.

PFW’s lone victory this season, 67-63 over Southeastern Louisiana on Nov. 25, wasn’t pretty either, as the Mastodons allowed a late rally to a team that was 1 of 28 from 3-point range. On Sunday, the Vikings were the opposite, converting 12 of 26 shots from beyond the arc and taking command early.

“We’ve got to come out ready to play,” Godfrey said. “We’ve got to be ready to play all 40 minutes. At the beginning of this game, we started off with three straight turnovers, which can’t happen. The biggest thing I feel we should take away from this is we need to have more pride in playing hard and more of a passion toward the game.”

PFW’s Jalon Pipkins had 14 points. Demetric Horton and Bobby Planutis had 12 apiece.

Cleveland State (2-3, 2-0) made 18 of 29 shots in the first half, including 9 of 17 attempts from 3-point range, for a 22-point halftime lead and it finished 28 of 51 from the field. PFW was 10 of 22 from the field in the first half and finished 26 of 53, including 12 of 29 from 3-point range.

Key 3-pointers from Godfrey and Horton cut the Vikings’ lead to 85-80 with 28 seconds remaining, but Cleveland State buckled down from there.

“To have a group like this, with this resiliency, this is a high-character group,” Coffman said. “The challenges for all these student athletes with the stuff we’re asking them to do, they love basketball and they’ve very appreciative. To step up and show that resilience (in the second half), I’m proud and there’s a good basketball team here.”

PFW’s women’s team lost 80-63 to Northern Kentucky. Riley Ott had 20 points for the Mastodons (0-6, 0-4). Northern Kentucky (4-4, 4-0) was paced by Grayson Rose’s 23 points.

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