Squandering leads had been a staple of the Purdue Fort Wayne men’s basketball season, even in the games the Mastodons had won.
But today was a different animal altogether.
PFW led all but 1 minute, 1 second and defeated Illinois-Chicago 88-55.
“We took care of the basketball, had four less turnovers than them, and we had some good rebounding, limiting them to only three offensive rebounds (to our 11),” said PFW’s Bobby Planutis, who had 12 points. “So we did a good job of not giving them second-chance shots and being able to push and go.”
Jarred Godfrey had 16 points and four rebounds for the Mastodons (4-5, 3-5 in the Horizon League). Michael Diggins’ 23 points and four rebounds paced the Flames (5-4, 2-2), who lost back-to-back games at the Gates Center.
“I’m proud of just the effort,” PFW coach Jon Coffman said. “We put together a weekend and put together a 40-minute effort today. Our mantra has been that Day 2 (of a doubleheader) is the tougher day, facing a tougher team, and it was good to have success there and it can be really mentally taxing.”
PFW shot 49.2% from the field, compared to UIC’s 39.3%, and the Mastodons' Deonte Billups and Jalon Pipkins stifled playmaker Teyvion Kirk to the tune of eight points, his second fewest of the season, on 4-of-10 shooting.
Beyond the arc, PFW made 11 of 18 shots and UIC was 6 of 24.
The Mastodons got 15 points from Billups, who was 5 of 6 from 3-point range, while Pipkins totaled 14 points. DeMierre Black added nine points.
“I feel like Deonte has finally gotten into his groove and his body’s back. I feel like he’s moving up and he’s shooting the ball better than he ever did last year (as a freshman),” Coffman said of Billups, who had been hindered by injury and multiple quarantines during the pandemic.
PFW defeated UIC 96-89 in overtime Friday, when Godfrey totaled a career-best 41 points – three short of equaling Max Landis’ program record – along with nine rebounds and four assists, even though the Mastodons squandered an 11-point lead in the final minutes of regulation time.
The Mastodons kept at it early Saturday, Godfrey’s jump shot 1:01 into the game giving them a lead they’d never squander, as they led by as many as 16 points in the first half.
Key shots included a Godfrey fallaway from the top of the key at the shot-clock buzzer; a Pipkins reverse dunk at the end of a fastbreak; a Planutis 3-pointer set up by a Ra Kpedi save of the ball while falling out of bounds; and a Godfrey 3-pointer as he fell out of bounds at the opposite end.
The onslaught continued in the second half; a Planutis 3-pointer gave PFW as 52-29 lead with 16:24. Coffman commended his team for making smarter play, “doing little things and stacking them,” while also maintaining intensity, leading to improved play with the lead.
PFW is scheduled to play at Milwaukee on Friday and Saturday, then at Green Bay on Jan. 22 and 23.