Jon Coffman's halftime speech wasn't exhilarating.
It was effective.
“I had a couple people come up to me after the game and say, 'Man, whatever that halftime talk was, it was magical,'” the Purdue Fort Wayne men's basketball coach said Wednesday. “But it was nothing beyond everybody taking a deep breath and having poise and talking about being 'us' for 20 minutes here.”
The Mastodons emerged victorious, 70-59, over a South Dakota team that Coffman said is “probably the eldest and arguably the most talented team in our league.”
Jarred Godfrey had 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting for the Mastodons (8-8), who trailed by 12 early in the second half and rallied to win their conference opener at the Gates Center, where an announced crowd of 739 was on hand.
“We were prepared at the beginning of the game, but we had some silly turnovers, some bad offensive processes and some bad shots,” Godfrey said. “That led to some of their buckets. We really locked in on that at halftime (down 35-23) and really fixed that.”
The Coyotes (9-7, 0-2 in Summit League) were paced by Tyler Hagedorn's 22 points, including 6-of-12 shooting from 3-point range. Stanley Umude, the Summit League's Preseason Player of the Year, had 17 points.
South Dakota's national-ranked women's team defeated PFW 62-41 earlier in the day, despite 11 points from Riley Ott. It was South Dakota's 14th straight victory against PFW's women.
For the PFW men, who had lost three of their previous four games, the shooting went from 30% in the first half to 54.8% in the second half. The Coyotes' shooting dropped from 40.7% to 31%.
“Our process wasn't very good in the first half,” Coffman said. “The ball movement stuck. We forced drives into bad spaces. Our whole philosophy is to create space and attack space. We were attacking bad space.”
PFW's Brian Patrick, who had 21 points and made 5 of 9 three-pointers, said Coffman's halftime message was “continue to be us.”
“We got out of our flow a few times in the first half, taking some silly shots,” Patrick said. “We were taking some early shots on the shot clock, and I feel like we settled down in the second half a little bit and we got rolling.”
Timely scoring from Marcus DeBerry, who finished with seven points, certainly helped. DeBerry had back-to-back baskets off mid-court steals – one ending with a layup, the other with a thunderous dunk – to give the Mastodons a 52-43 lead with 8:31 remaining.
DeBerry tacked on a 3-pointer for a 58-45 lead.
PFW's Matt Holba had six points and a career-best 11 rebounds.
“To be able to (have this second) half and know that now they've done this before, that's huge,” Coffman said. “The more you have collective experiences, the better. And that's one of the issues we've had with this group. We're not necessarily young, (like) a bunch of freshmen running around out there, but we're young in terms of our process and how we play.”
In the women's game, South Dakota (13-2, 2-0) was paced by 19 points from Ciara Duffy, the Summit League's Preseason Player of the Year, who made 9 of 19 shots.
For PFW (4-10, 0-1), Hannah Hess had nine points. Sh'Toya Sanders had seven points and 10 rebounds.
South Dakota, ranked 22nd in the coaches' poll, was up 27-25 at halftime and started the third quarter with a 10-0 run. It closed the game with a 17-4 run.